Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | Apr 26, 2022

The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:

1. Board approves use of the County General Fund Contingency: The Board approved the transfer of $7.5 million from the General Fund Continency for Conflict Counsel and Cares Campus expenditures, in addition to Our Place renovations and roads improvements. The transfer will leave $1 million in the Contingency fund for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2022. The transfer includes:

Conflict Counsel expenses have increased beyond originally anticipated due to increased caseload, and the transfer of $300,000 will cover these increased costs.

The Human Services Agency will receive a transfer of $3 million for capital improvements and renovations of buildings at Our Place and the Women’s Crossroads program.

The Homelessness Fund will receive a transfer of $3 million to cover operating costs for the Cares Campus that were not included in the original budget due to the timing of the transfer of the campus to Washoe County.

Finally, the Roads Fund will receive $1.2 million for one-time costs that support the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant match for rural road construction projects in Gerlach, County Road 34 and County/State Road 447 and/or other unfunded projects.

2. Board approves Vote Center locations for Primary Election: Last election due to the COVID-19 pandemic Washoe County had one location for in-person voting. Upon approval from the Board today, Washoe County will have 24 early voting locations, plus a ballot drop box for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. Early voting is May 28 – June 10. On Election Day, June 14, there will be 57 vote centers throughout the county. The cost for early voting locations will be approximately $150,000, which is accounted for in the Registrar of Voters’ annual budget.

In another election-related action today, the Board approved an interlocal agreement between Washoe County and the City of Sparks and the City of Reno for election services provided by Washoe County for the 2022 primary and general elections. An interlocal agreement has been in effect with City of Sparks since 2004 and with City of Reno since 1984, and is submitted to the Board of Commissioners each election year for approval.

3. Commissioners discuss the Community Reinvestment Program in the form of community grants: Community Reinvestment Manager Gabrielle Enfield presented the newly created Community Reinvestment program, which is designed to build a resilient Washoe County by connecting federal, state and local grant funds to areas of need.

Washoe County received $91.5 million in ARPA-SLRF grants, $46.7 million of which has been awarded so far to 25 internal projects and two nonprofit awards. The second tranche of funding is anticipated around May 19, 2022. The majority of projects are started, and most are focused on “negative economic impacts,” i.e., homeless services, capital improvement projects, services for youth and social services, rental assistance and food programs.

The Community Grant Program is a $4 million program made up of small grants up to $50,000 and standard grants up to $1 million. Staff will conduct community outreach about the program in the month of May, with the application period opening in June, and funding awarded in October.

“I think there may be opportunities when you have departmental meetings to chat with folks to see what are nonprofits doing in the community that would assist your work in the County,” Commissioner Alexis Hill said. “I think there’s a real opportunity to find a great nexus and do that transformational programming.”

4. Board moves forward to enter into negotiations with two emergency foster care providers: The Human Services Agency issued an invitation to bid for emergency foster care providers. Two providers – Three Angels Care and Call to Compassion – were selected to move forward in negotiations, and if successful, will be awarded contracts to provide foster services.

Three Angels Care has worked with HSA since 2017 and has grown to five homes and has added support groups, advocacy programs, and outreach that positively impact safety and permanency for foster youth in our system. Their longstanding relationship and trauma informed approach has allowed them to grow a foundation that can support and respond successfully to emergency placements.

Call to Compassion has worked with HSA since 2016 and currently operates one home and provides psychosocial rehabilitation services (PSR) to the community. Call to Compassion is well versed in the Family First Services Prevention Act and took a great initiative in becoming compliant with that act as it pertains to providing foster care to youth placed in specialized foster care and regular foster care settings. Call to Compassion has proven to be a strong partner in their ability to collaborate with the agency by providing quality care to children placed in their licensed homes.

5. Washoe County enters into memorandum of understanding (MOU) to address recreational shooting on public land: The Board of County Commissioners has repeatedly been asked to address recreational target shooting on public lands through creating a congested shooting boundary, expanding shooting rights in certain parts of the county, resolving conflict with non-shooting recreation, and wildfire concerns. However, Washoe County is only one party to a comprehensive plan and understanding of recreational shooting in this area with both the U. S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) being the stewards of most of the lands currently utilized for outdoor recreation in our area. Commissioner Jeanne Herman has been a champion of this effort to bring all entities together.

“This is a way for all three agencies to be more coordinated with our response to changing needs. One of the first things we plan on doing is getting on the citizen advisory board meetings to talk about a survey for our community related to areas they’d like to see us study,” Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro said. “This is a really good way for us to continue the conversation in a meaningful way to make sure that the use of our federal lands is appropriate and safe.”

The Board today approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of the Interior, BLM, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and USFS that will help the agencies leverage expertise and other resources to provide the public with better, higher quality, sustainable recreational access to BLM and Forest Service public lands.

“I can tell you on any given weekend and afternoon in my district in the center of the valley, you can hear active shooting,” Chair Vaughn Hartung said. “We could certainly use some type of a designated area and try to stop the rampant recreational shooting all over the valley.”

6. Sheriff’s Office presents quarterly update on detention center: Washoe County Chief Deputy Ralph Caldwell presented the Sheriff’s Office’s quarterly report on the conditions of the detention center and the welfare of inmates.

As of April 8, there were zero cases of COVID-19 in the detention center, although Caldwell noted that there were two cases of influenza in the last quarter, and proper quarantine protocols were taken. COVID vaccines are available to inmates.

Fentanyl remains a problem in the detention center, and there were four overdoses in the last quarter, January through March, one of which was fatal.