State of the City: Boulder City, Nev.
Believe it or not, not all cities in Nevada allow gambling. That includes Boulder City.
As Nevada’s southern-most city, Boulder City borders Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Some day, it will lie along Interstate 11 highway connecting Las Vegas to Phoenix.
The city’s mayor, Rod Woodbury, was elected in 2015 and gave his first State of the City address last month. He focused on development projects such as a large solar energy zone.
Woodbury joins KNPR for a special series of interviews with local and regional mayors from Nevada. He addresses recent events in the city, such as controversy with a former animal control department leader and the resignation of the city's police chief.
How are solar projects important to Boulder City?
We've had solar projects going on in Boulder City for years. We've got a solar energy corridor down in El Dorado Valley. And in addition to producing sustainable energy, which is a great thing. It helps our local economy by producing revenues for us.
What else are you looking forward to?
I-11 is a big thing for us that is under construction now. That's going to bypass Boulder City so we need to be ready for that. We're working hard on that right now.
What are you saying to Boulder City residents about the asbestos?
The RTC and NDOT have done a good job in their protocols in handling that. They have some serious protocols that they have to follow there. So far so good on the testing that's come back on that. As far as, Boulder City residents go, the naturally occurring asbestos that is there has always been there and so it's just a matter of educating them on what the best practices are to protect themselves. And that's what we want is a safe environment.
Are residents worried about it?
People are asking questions. I don't know that there is a great alarm there. But everybody wants to know what does this really mean and I think that is going to take years and years to determine. UNLV is doing studies and other things like that.
How are you going to ensure that the city doesn't go down the road of financial trouble again?
We always want great public involvement. We are limited in the amount of debt we can accrue in certain ways. There is a million dollar cap on what we can do without voter approval for instance. Certainly, every municipality has needs that it has to take care of. Ours includes capital improvements and an aging utility infrastructure. So we have to find creative ways to fund that. We have to look at if our rates are sufficient to cover those and be self sustainable and things like that.
Are you worried that I-11 will cause travelers to bypass the city?
I don't think we're alarmed about it. But we are certainly trying to be vigilant about it and being prepared for it. I think most of Boulder City businesses are destination businesses anyway. People come there because they want to come there. We're looking to ensure that that still remains the same. We're still going to be connected closely with Hoover Dam and the visitors that come for that, as well as Lake Mead.
What is your reaction to the controversy surrounding the head of animal control accused of needlessly killing animals and the police chief leaving because of the controversy? Do you think the chief should have resigned?
I haven't had a chance to talk to the chief yet and I don't know his particular reasons. He did come out of retirement to help us out in the first place. If to the extent that his reasons for doing that were related to the animal shelter incident I can't say I blame him honestly. He had a great 30 years career already and the last thing he needs at this point in his life is to be mired in controversy. He was just trying to do the right thing for Boulder City. I believe when all is said and done he's going to come clean on that.
Were you surprised by the animal control issue?
It caught us all a little bit by surprise. To us, it's a little bit old news because this happened eight months ago or so. We made a shift there. Our new animal control manager is Ann Inabnitt and she's done a fantastic job setting up a new website to get these animals reunited with their owners to get adoptions taken place. We've had hundreds of those instances happen already. So I think we're on the right track.
In 2013, long-time police chief Tom Finn was fired and he accused the city of conspiring against him. Regardless of why he left, it brought up at the time that almost every political seat in Boulder City was held by someone of the Mormon faith. Do you think you think the city has diversified itself since then?
We have our newest council member Rich Shuman, who is not of the LDS faith. I don't know what to say beyond that. We're all trying to do the best we can on the job. So, I think if you ask most Boulder City residents they don't think so either. That is why the voted us into office... not based on our religion. I'm not sure most residents know what religion we are when they vote for us.
If it were said about Jews or somebody else then it would be deemed bigotry but you know. It seems to get away with it in the media these days. I don't know why. But it's irrelevant to whether we're doing our job as city stewards.
How do you think the proposed plan to make schools more autonomous would work in Boulder City?
I know that the governor's task force is working on that right now. And Rich Shuman is on that task force for us. I've had dialog with the other mayors. We try to meet monthly and talk about issues that are common to our different jurisdictions. Everybody has taken a wait-and-see approach to what this really means.
Is the dropping lake level a worry for Boulder City?
It is a worry for everybody as we watch the water drop. The drought is something we can't personally control. I know the water authority is trying to take steps to make sure we have domestic water for our residents as well as businesses with the third straw that they put in there. And now working on the pumping station for that third straw. It means extra money that we have to come up with to fund those types of things.
What would you like to have the Legislature address in Boulder City?
One big one for us is industrial infrastructure. It's going to be a big deal with us with I-11 coming in. I know its been a big deal with the Faraday issue out at Apex. That coupled with transportation is huge. Just being able to get the utilities and things like that to the places they need to be. We've supported Nevada's economy and the national economy with our solar energy corridor and we fell like it would be nice to get some help back for what we've put in for that.
Rod Woodbury, mayor, Boulder City