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Law sets parameters for council’s actions

Does a position on City Council or as mayor come with a magic wand or golden scepter? I can answer no. There have been recent examples the City Council or I, as mayor, cannot fix to everyone’s satisfaction. The current worldwide pandemic is the greatest example of that harsh fact.

Another example was the recent decision to abide by a 30-year-old lease contract regarding 28 hangars at the Boulder City (Municipal) Airport. The lease agreement was with a company named Nunno that enters into agreements with airports around the country to lease land at reduced rates in exchange for building aircraft hangars as tenant improvements. The agreement for the lease of land at below-market rates for 30 years then requires the lease holder to return control of the land with the improvements that were constructed to the city. The land lease during the 30 years ranged from approximately $25 per month for each hanger space to $56 at the end of the lease.

During the 30-year period of time, the company may rent the hangars or sell the improvements to others. There are tax advantages to write off depreciation of the improvements. However, the agreement with the city continued to require the improvements become the property of the city at the end of the lease. The improvements are required to be provided to the city in good condition at the end of the lease.

The City Council discussed several issues regarding the airport at special meetings I requested and a regular City Council meeting. The city attorney stated at one meeting that the City Council could do whatever it wanted with the lease. I do not believe that is sound legal advice. Such advice does not serve the council well. Members of the council cannot do whatever they want as we must abide by the law.

The law does not allow the City Council to give away city-owned property for less than market value except in very specific circumstances. Private pilots and aircraft owners are not included in these specific circumstances. Airport management is working with the current tenants of the hangars for new leases when the current lease expires.

The city is not “taking” property from people. The terms of the lease were determined 30 years ago for the city to forego the full market value of the land lease in exchange for the improvements that were built.

Another recent issue is the request by the local chamber of commerce to obtain the use of city-owned property at no cost. As I indicated earlier, state laws allow the city to provide property at less than market value in specific circumstances. One of those circumstances is for nonprofit organizations. But the law is more specific about which nonprofits. Only charitable organizations are defined. The chamber is not defined as a charitable organization but as a business organization. The City Council cannot ignore the law.

I ran for election to the City Council and later for mayor because I believed the actions of the council at that time were too often based on “whatever they wanted to do” rather than what the law requires. I was convinced the actions of those council members would take away qualities of this city that make it such a wonderful place to live. I understand that people sometimes want benefits for their pursuits and I am ready to work with those people in accordance with the law and the well-being of our entire city.

Lastly, I want to recognize that we are beginning the process to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives may not return to the way things were a few short months ago but all us can help with making the recovery process successful by continuing efforts to limit the potential spread of the virus.

Boulder City was spared the brunt of this terrible disease but residents were affected, including two who died from the disease. Businesses are working to reopen and provide safe environments for customers and employees. I know many people who are suffering financially and physically. Let’s work together to make this work for all us.

Kiernan McManus is mayor of Boulder City. He is a native of Boulder City first elected to City Council in 2017.

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