Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | Jan 18, 2023

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

1.  Board ratifies State of Emergency for the weather: A State of Emergency was declared earlier this month for the series of winter storms that hit northern Nevada in rapid succession over the New Year holiday. The declaration was written to expire on Feb. 6, 2023, but terminates immediately if not approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The Board unanimously approved the declaration.

“It’s important that we have an emergency declaration because it enables us to move things very quickly,” Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro said. “It provides us the ability to work outside our employment agreements so we can pull people in and do the work that’s needed. We can make sure we have the people and equipment. Our operators are tired, but excited as well to provide for the safety of our community.”

Washoe County has prepared for potential flooding as the storms are forecast to bring a mix of heavy rain and heavy snow through next week.

2.  Commissioners upheld Planning Commission’s denial of development code related to cannabis lounges: The Planning Commission denied code amendments to Chapter 110 (development code) at its Dec. 6, 2022, meeting. Washoe County Planning Manager Chad Giesinger presented an overview of the codes, amendments, and licenses for cannabis consumption lounges. Today’s action applies only to the proposed development code amendment related to the cannabis lounges. The Board of County Commissioners voted to 3 to 2 to uphold the Planning Commission’s denial of amendments to the development code.

Because the denial was upheld, no further action was taken on proposed amendments to Washoe County Code for cannabis consumption lounges.

3.  Board accepts grant to restore historic Galena Creek schoolhouse: The Nevada Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation (CCCHP) granted $345,000 to Washoe County to begin restoration of the historic Galena Creek schoolhouse located in Phillip & Annie Callahan Park. The grant requires a $10,000 match from Washoe County.

Washoe County purchased the schoolhouse property for $600,000 in 2006, and the schoolhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, the same year that a master plan for the property was developed.

The restoration will begin with Phase 1: completion of restoration design and construction plans, permitting, environmental testing, pest control, structural stabilization and retrofitting, and interior and exterior restoration. Future funding will be sought to complete Phase 2 restoration work with the long-term goal of adding the building to the Parks reservable facilities network. As a reservable facility the Galena Creek schoolhouse will be available for the public to reserve for meetings and special events and will generate revenue that can help offset management and maintenance costs. The building may also be used by Parks staff to host interpretive and educational programs and events.

The Galena Creek schoolhouse represents a period in Nevada’s educational history when the days of the rural one-room school were coming to an end, and was strongly associated with the Callahan Ranch. In addition, it played a significant role in the career of Reno poet Joanne de Longchamps, who owned the building from 1971 until 1982.

“This is very exciting for me, I was there with my children in the summer, and the playground and trails are a wonderful place to invest,” Commissioner Mariluz Garcia said.

4.  Board reviews legislative principles for 2023 legislative session: The 82nd Session of the Nevada Legislature is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 6, and will last for 120 days. Historically, the Board of County Commissioners has approved legislative principles prior to the start of each regular session of the Nevada Legislature. The 2023 Washoe County State Legislative Principles provide guidance to staff, lobbyists and elected officials in representing the County before the Nevada Legislature and provides a means to advance and protect the County’s interests on issues at the state level.

Washoe County’s 2023 State Legislative Principles are defined as:

  • Respect for Governmental Roles in Delivering Quality Public Service
  • Economic Strength and Diversity
  • Effective Communication

5.  Board appoints three members to Board of Equalization: James Ainsworth and Rob Pierce were appointed to serve on the Board of Equalization (BOE) for terms that expire June 30, 2026, and appointed Barbara “Bobbi” Lazzarone to serve as an alternate for a term that expires June 30, 2023.

The Washoe County Board of Equalization is charged with hearing appeals filed by property owners who do not agree with the value placed on their property for tax purposes by the County Assessor. The Board conducts its business annually during the month of February and is required to conclude its business on or before the last day of February. The BOE is composed of five members with four-year terms. Alternate member terms are appointed for a term of one year, with the option of reappointment for an additional one-year term.

6.  Board appoints two members to the Law Library Board of Trustees: Michael Kattelman applied to be reappointed to serve as an attorney member on the Law Library Board of Trustees. Aurora Partridge applied to serve as a non-attorney member. Both positions serve two-year terms, expiring on January 31, 2025. Both applicants were appointed. The Law Library Board of Trustees is made up of two attorneys and two non-attorneys appointed by the Board of County Commissioners for two-year terms that overlap. The Board also has three District Judge members designated by the District Court Judges. The Board of Trustees meets on a quarterly basis.

7.  Commissioner Herman allocates District Special Funds to 12 nonprofit or governmental organizations: The Board approved a total of $72,000 of District 5 Special Funds to benefit the following organizations:

  • $20,000 to Safe Embrace to support the organization’s efforts to provide compassionate and trauma-informed services to individuals suffering from domestic abuse, sexual violence or human trafficking;
  • $10,000 to the Vya Conservation District for the purpose of supporting natural resource conservation and ensuring sustainable use of northwestern Nevada’s natural resources;
  • $10,000 to the Washoe-Storey Conservation District for the purpose of fostering environmental stewardship and management of natural resources;
  • $10,000 to the Reno Air Racing Association to support the Reno Air Races event and for its Pilot Training Scholarships and STEM initiatives;
  • $5,000 to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada to support the organization’s efforts to provide food for families in need throughout the region;
  • $2,500 to Our Story, Inc. for the purpose of benefiting the Northern Nevada African American Firefighter Museum to reflect the unity of the historic Black Springs community and its volunteer fire department;
  • $2,500 to the Adopt A Vet Dental Program to provide free critical and life-saving dental care to impoverished veterans in Nevada;
  • $2,500 to the Washoe County Human Services Agency for the purpose of supporting the Men’s CrossRoads program, a supportive living community providing drug- and alcohol-free housing and programming for men transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $2,500 to the Veterans Upward Bound Program at Truckee Meadows Community College for the purpose of supporting educational and career success for U.S. military veterans;
  • $2,500 to The Salvation Army to support its human trafficking survivor program;
  • $2,500 to the Veterans Guest House to support its mission of providing U.S. military service veterans and their families with caring support during times of medical need;
  • $2,000 to the Center for Healthy Aging –for the purpose of supporting its intergenerational community garden site and indigenous food program.

“Commissioner Herman has so generously donated her district funds to these quality organizations,” Commissioner Alexis Hill said. “Thank you for those donations.”

8.  Board declares February 4 as World Cancer Day: As cancer is the second leading cause of death in Nevada, Commissioner Mariluz Garcia read a proclamation declaring February 4 as World Cancer Day and encouraging all citizens to join activities that will increase awareness of what they can do to prevent, detect, treat and control cancer and improve quality of life. Darcy Phillips with the Nevada Cancer Coalition was in attendance to receive the proclamation.

“There’s some exciting new data out from the American Cancer Society that shows that prevention does work,” Phillips said. “We’ve seen a 65 percent decrease in cervical cancer since the HPV vaccine.”