Tuesday’s City Council meeting saw several sides of a drawing table as the council dealt with insurance, medical marijuana and residency issues.
In the first public comment portion of the meeting, local businessman David Ballweg, owner of LOADTEC, spoke in opposition of the proposed public hearing for July 14 on reducing the licensing and other fees that Deep Roots Medical (DRM) would be paying for their opportunity to open in Mesquite. “Deep Roots Medical came into this knowing what the fees would be,” he said. “I don’t think at this time that anything has changed to reduce the fees… they’re not even open yet.”
Keith Capurro, the CEO of DRM, stated he would appreciate it if the City would reevaluate the fees and realign the fees to comparable fees found in similar markets in Southern Nevada, who are paying 3% or less of gross sales. “With the goal of being on a level playing field with our Southern Nevada competitors, and to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage, we would appreciate the opportunity to move this proposed bill to public hearing and open it up to discussion.” The current fee for DRM is set at 7% of quarterly gross sales, which is higher than all other jurisdictions within Clark County except for North Las Vegas, which start lower but increase each year and top out at 8%.
When the item came up for discussion towards the end of the meeting, Councilman Kraig Hafen stated that while he is not opposed to the public hearing process, he was opposed to this item being considered for such. “When we approved this for the fees to the City, there was concern within a few days after approval that they (DRM) were requesting to lower the fees… The fees are what will be going directly to the accounts of Mesquite City, so if we lower those, those are going to be lowered, and I think Mr. Empey (Dave Empey, the City’s Finance Director) knows what that will do.”
The Council did pass the motion with a 3-1 vote (Hafen being the lone nay vote) to set up a public hearing on July 14 at 5 p.m. for consideration of lowering the fees.
Other business at Tuesday’s meeting included the approval of a payment for the City’s insurance to Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool (POOL) of $437,822.74 to cover their claims and coverage for FY 2015-16. This is the lowest premium that the City has paid since joining POOL. Councilman Rapson and Hafen both spoke of concerns that the POOL has become increasingly critical in denials and disputes when paying claims. “Those kind of things should be resolved without having to go to battle with POOL,” said Hafen. “I’m not convinced that we would like some resolution.” He continued by stating that if such a resolution of this problem cannot be found, he would recommend that the City ‘shop around’ for a better alternative. Rapson had previously voiced similar concerns both at the meeting and during the Tech Review on June 16.
Council also voted to approve the amendment to Bill 494 with regards to City employees being required to live within 15 miles of Mesquite. With respect to current employees, this amendment would only affect those who were hired after July 1, 2013. The verbiage for this bill would be included in any future job offers the City extends to future employees.