Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | May 16, 2023

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

1. Board approves $1 billion budget for FY24: The Board of County Commissioners approved the annual budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2023. Chief Financial Officer Abbe Yacoben presented the budget, which was built according to the Board’s strategic objectives: fiscal sustainability, economic impacts, vulnerable populations and innovative services. The $1.065 billion budget comprises several funds, including the General Fund, Special Revenue Fund, Capital Projects Fund, and the Debt Service Fund. Washoe County strives to maintain an unassigned fund balance of approximately 10-17 percent.

The tentative budget was reviewed by the Board at the April 18 meeting, and the Finance team worked the Board’s feedback into the final budget that was presented today. Once approved, the budget becomes a financial plan and operations guide for the coming fiscal year but is amendable by NRS/NAC rules as needs and the economic climate change.  

“This is my third budget year at the county and this is the best budget presentation I’ve seen here. It’s so extensive, so thank you for that,” Chair Alexis Hill said. “You’ve provided a lot of clarity, and this budget is something we should be proud of because we’re making some strategic decisions and difficult decisions because we don’t know what we’re looking at economically for the coming year. This meets the policy this board has set and meets the needs of the community.”

2. Five-year Capital Improvement Plan moves forward unanimously: In a related budget action, the Board also approved the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal years 2024-2028. The CIP is a five-year plan for the county’s capital improvements for park facilities, including trails, open space, and regional parks; libraries; roads under purview of the County; purchase of light and heavy fleet equipment; utilities infrastructure; capital outlay for major equipment; and County buildings and other facilities. The CIP is limited to capital projects with an estimated cost of $100,000 or more for assets that have a lifespan of more than one year.

Per Nevada Revised Statues, the county must submit a five-year CIP to the State of Nevada by August 1 of each year. The entire five-year plan includes over $350 million in capital expenditures. The first year of the plan that is incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget totals $185,195,029. 

CFO Abbe Yacoben presented the CIP with details on the projects included in the plan.  

“All of these projects are really exciting, especially as we consider the constituents of all ages throughout the county that often get to experience these things, touch them, see them, feel them, and it just improves the overall quality of life,” Commissioner Mariluz Garcia said. “Infrastructure on its face is not something people get all that jazzed about, but I do.” 

3. Board passes resolution to increase 911 surcharge: Washoe County’s 911 telephone line surcharge is currently $.85 per month per line. The Board approved an increase of $.15 to a total of $1 per month per line. The “customer trunk line” (central lines that branch off into extensions) surcharge will go from $8.50 to $10 per month. This increase brings the surcharge to the cap allowed under Nevada state law. The surcharge is on every line, whether mobile or landline, and it is used to pay costs associated with enhancing the 911 telephone system for reporting an emergency, costs of updating the required Five-Year Master Plan, and reimbursement of allowable expenses for body-worn and vehicle-mounted camera systems for certain law enforcement agencies who are required under state law to utilize body-worn cameras.

3. Board presents proclamations for month of May: Three noteworthy causes were commemorated by the Board with proclamations:

The month of May was proclaimed International Internal Audit Awareness Month and Building Safety Month. Additionally, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office staff received a proclamation declaring May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 14-20 as National Police Week.  

“I want to thank you for recognizing not only our fallen officers but all the members of the Sheriff’s Office and those around the nation that every day serve our communities,” Sheriff Darin Balaam said.  

5. Board approves allocations of District Special Funds: Commissioners Jeanne Herman and Mariluz Garcia proposed allocations from their District Special Funds to benefit local nonprofit or governmental organizations.

“Research continues to come out indicating that students are still far behind academically since the pandemic, and that gap is much deeper for students of color. Young people also lost ground socially and with respect to their mental health,” Sean Hill with Sierra Nevada Journeys said. “We are here because our programs provide critical experiences for children, informal educational experiences that captivate kids and show them what is possible. STEM, outdoor education, leadership, it’s all part of our programs.”