Unincorporated towns in Nevada

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Nevada state law allows for governance of unincorporated towns under two different systems. The Unincorporated government Law, adopted in 1975, applies to counties of 100,000 people or more, and any other county that opts in. For other counties, a patchwork system of laws applies.[1]

A 1975 study by the state Legislative Commission identified 39 unincorporated towns in Nevada.[2] As of 2014, the state Demographer's Office listed 44 unincorporated towns.[3]

Unincorporated Town Government Law[edit]

The Unincorporated Town Government Law,[4] adopted in 1975, applies to counties with a population over 100,000 (Clark and Washoe Counties), and any other county whose commissioners pass an ordinance adopting the law.[5]

Under this law, unincorporated towns are provided extra services by the county, paid for by property taxes or other revenue sources from the town.[6] A town can be formed by an initiative petition by residents, or by the county commissioners.[7]

A town advisory board is impaneled for each town. The county commissioners may choose for the town advisory board to be elected by town residents, or appointed by the commissioners. In either case, the commissioners may remove a board member at any time.[8]

The advisory board is responsible for acting as a liaison between the residents and the county commissioners, and advising the commissioners on budgets and local ordinances.[9] The commissioners may delegate to the advisory board management of local services and expenditures.[10]

Other counties[edit]

In counties where the Unincorporated Town Government Law does not apply, a town board may be established for an unincorporated town, either by initiative petition or act of the county commissioners.[11] The five-member board is elected by residents.[12]

The county commission may levy a property tax of up to 1.5% on all property in the town.[13] This tax, and other town revenue, is placed in a town fund administered by the county, to be used only for the benefit of the town.[14]

Many town government functions can be exercised jointly by the town board or the county commissioners, such as providing local services,[15] adopting ordinances,[16] regulating businesses,[17] establishing police and fire departments,[18] and issuing bonds[19]

As an alternative to a town board, county commissioners may create a citizens' advisory council for an unincorporated town.[20] The three-to-five-member council is appointed by commissioners after an "informal election".[21] The council acts in an advisory and liaison capacity, and does not affect the responsibilities of the commissioners.[22]

The option to establish a town board was enacted in 1967.[23] The system was unpopular, because of an impractical provision that required two county commissioners to sit on the town board; by 1975, it had been adopted by only one town, Crescent Valley.[24] The citizens' advisory council provision was passed into law in 1973.[24][25] The town board law was later amended in 1985 to remove the requirement of county commissioners serving on the board.[26]


  1. ^ Henry Brean (2009-12-19). "Nevada desert town can't find its boundaries". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  2. ^ Unincorporated Town Governments (PDF) (Report). Legislative Commission of the Legislative Council Bureau, State of Nevada. 1975. p. 8. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  3. ^ "2014 Estimates". Nevada State Demographer's Office. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  4. ^ NRS 269.500-269.652
  5. ^ NRS 269.530
  6. ^ NRS 269.520
  7. ^ NRS 269.535
  8. ^ NRS 269.576, NRS 269.577
  9. ^ NRS 269.576, NRS 269.577, NRS 269.590
  10. ^ NRS 269.580, NRS 269.590
  11. ^ NRS 269.0165
  12. ^ NRS 269.017, NRS 269.0171
  13. ^ NRS 269.0115
  14. ^ NRS 269.095
  15. ^ NRS 269.128
  16. ^ NRS 269.155
  17. ^ NRS 269.170
  18. ^ NRS 269.235, NRS 269.250
  19. ^ NRS 269.410
  20. ^ NRS 269.024
  21. ^ NRS 269.0242
  22. ^ NRS 269.024, NRS 269.0246
  23. ^ "1967 Statutes of Nevada, Chapter 545 - An act relating to unincorporated towns; to provide for the establishment of a town board form of government...". Act of April 27, 1967. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  24. ^ a b Unincorporated Town Governments (PDF) (Report). Legislative Commission of the Legislative Council Bureau, State of Nevada. 1975. pp. 10–11. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  25. ^ "1973 Statutes of Nevada, Chapter 514 - An act to amend chapter 269 of NRS, relating to unincorporated towns, by providing that the board of county commissioners may appoint a citizens' advisory council...". Act of April 22, 1973. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  26. ^ "1985 Statutes of Nevada, Chapter 216 - An act relating to unincorporated towns; requiring all members of a town board to be elected from the qualified electors of the town...". Act of May 20, 1985. Retrieved 2017-10-19.