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Letter from Leo A. McNamee (Las Vegas) to E. E. Bennett, October 18, 1934







The city could purchase the water company, but not by condemnation except for cause.

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Box 75 Folder 174-2 Vol. I Law Department UPRR Water Supply-Las Vegas


hln001069. Union Pacific Railroad Collection, 1828-1995. MS-00397. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Las Vegas, Nevada. October 18, 1934. Mr. E. E. Bennett: Replying to yours of October 16th relative to water system of Las Vegas Land and Water Company, will say that from time to time there is talk here about municipal ownership of water utilities, but the impression I get from this talk is not so much about the City taking over the Land and Water Company's holdings, as it is for the City to install its own system, using the water from the artesian well on city owned land located a mile or so northwest of the Rail-road Company's spring. There is statutory authority authorizing the City of Las Vegas to purchase or acquire public utilities, and this is contained in Section 31 of the Charter of the City of Las Vegas, as amended by the session laws of 1931 (See 1931 Nevada Statutes, Page 377, subdivision 5). Pursuant to that section, the City Commissioners have power to borrow money on the credit of the City and to issue bonds therefor. There is no limit as to the amount of bonded indebtedness the City can incur for the purpose of procuring supplies of water. The section provides that the Board of City Com-missioners shall have the power to acquire or establish any public utility in the manner therein provided, and the procedure to acquire same would be as follows: The Board issues a proclamation setting forth briefly the public utility proposed to be acquired, the estimated cost thereof as shown by the report provided by the Board and Mayor or an engineer or party appoint-ed by the Board for that purpose, the proposed bonded indebtedness to be incurred therefor, the terms, amount, rate of interest, and time within which redeemable and on what fund. The proclamation is published once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper and states the date of the meeting at which the Board will pass the ordinance providing for the bond issue. At the time fixed Mr. Bennett: - 2 - 10-18-54. the Board proceeds to enact an ordinance for such purpose, which shall conform in all respects to the terms and con-ditions of the previously published proclamation. No vote of the electors is required, except that if a petition is presented to the Board, signed by qualified electors of the City, equal in number to 10% of the voters as determined by the preceding election, and representing not less than 5% of the taxable property of the City as shown by the last preceding tax list, asking for a special election upon the question of whether or not the proposed ordinance shall be passed, then no such ordinance shall be enacted except pursuant to a special election called and held for such purpose and carried by a majority of the votes cast. There is no authority, however, for the City to take any public utility without its consent, nor is there any provision or condition in any franchise held by Las Vegas Land and Water Company requiring it to dispose of its property to the City of Las Vegas for a reasonable price, or any other price. The "franchise" held by Las Vegas Land and Water Company consists of the permit granted by the City of Las Vegas under date of February 21, 1950, being Audit No. 7641, and the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity granted by the Public Service Commission of the State of Nevada. You will notice that the City's permit to use the streets, alleys and public places runs for fifty years from the date of its adoption, and the same could only be revoked for cause; namely, a violation of any of the provisions of the permit. Our statute on eminent domain (Section 9153 Nevada Compiled Laws) provides that subject to the provisions of this chapter, the right of eminent domain may be exercised on behalf of the following public uses : " 3 reservoirs, water rights, canals, aqueducts, flumes, ditches or pipes for conducting water for the use of the inhabitants of any county or incorporated city or town. . ." Section 9156, however, provides that before property can be taken it must appear, first, that the use to which it is to be applied is a use authorized by law; second, that the taking is necessary to such use; and third, if already appropriated to some public use, that the public Mr. Bennett -3- 10-18-34. use to which it is to be applied is a more necessary public use. LAM:ML