County Goal: Increase in PETT Funds

Yucca Mountain News Clips
Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pahrump Valley Times
May 10, 2006

For 2008 to 2013

First Bargaining Request is for $23 Million in July 2007

By Mark Waite

Nye County will ask the U.S. Department of Energy for more than twice as much in Payment Equal to Taxes for the years 2008 to 2013 for the land value of the Yucca Mountain project than it’s currently receiving.

From the $10.5 million in PETT funds it is currently receiving, the initial bargaining request will be for $23 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2007, gradually rising to $29 million for fiscal year 2011-2012. The PETT agreements are typically negotiated for a five-year period.

The funding is compensation to Nye County for the value of the Yucca Mountain project and improvements.

Nye County Commissioner Gary Hollis said 147,000 acres of federal land have been withdrawn for the Yucca Mountain project.

In a letter to Paul Golan, principal deputy director for the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Hollis said the county views the land for the repository and land being withdrawn for the railroad to Yucca Mountain as the primary commodities.

Construction of the exploratory shafts, underground rail system, ventilation, electrical and water systems, surface facilities and infrastructure all constitute taxable improvements.

The county made several points for the increased funding:

• Payments since 2001 have not kept pace with the increasing land values in Amargosa Valley. The payment for 2009 would have to be at least $17.4 million if indexed on current land values;

• DOE is requesting the withdrawal of additional land for the railroad;

• DOE has spent over $6 billion on improvements since the program began.

The county states delays to the Yucca Mountain project shouldn’t be reason to curb the PETT funds, which are specifically authorized by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Hollis said the requested amounts are merely the start of a negotiating position.

“I think we’re going to get more,” Hollis predicted. “I don’t know how much, negotiations are negotiations.”

The commissioner said counties with nuclear power plants receive much more in compensation. In the past, Nye County has used PETT funds for anything from funding a Pahrump Valley master plan to buying school buses to an education endowment fund.

A five-member committee was appointed by Nye County Commissioners May 2 to review requests for PETT funds in the coming fiscal year beginning July 1. The committee members include Interim County Manager Ron Williams, Interim Assistant County Manager Rick Marshall, Interim Comptroller Wiley Jung, Public Works Director Samson Yao and Facilities Director Bob Jones.

The “Priority A” wish list for PETT funds for the coming year includes, in no particular order,

• $400,000 for Nye County Sheriff’s Department patrol vehicles,

• $244,000 for the Tonopah Public Utilities sewer system,

• $400,000 for fairgrounds development in Pahrump,

• $2.5 million for county facility expansion,

• $1.5 million for roads,

• $800,000 for an Amargosa Valley swimming pool,

• $350,000 to pave the Amargosa Valley Community Center parking lot,

• $980,000 to develop the old Barrick mine outside Beatty,

• $500,000 for the volunteer fire departments,

• $250,000 for emergency services equipment,

• $169,000 for HAZMAT equipment,

• $150,000 for the Beatty Water and Sanitation department and

• $100,000 for a Tonopah fire department ladder truck.