Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | May 23, 2023

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

1. Board votes unanimously to pause fees for Golden Valley Artificial Recharge Program: The Golden Valley Artificial Recharge Program was started in the 1990s to support domestic well users by recharging the aquifer that now supports 598 domestic wells. Washoe County adopted the permanent county-managed program in 2002, funded by a monthly fee for users. However, the artificial recharge paused in 2016 as the groundwater level sharply rose. Since then, natural recharge has resulted in continuous rising groundwater levels in certain areas of Golden Valley.

Washoe County hosted five public outreach meetings starting in the spring of 2022 through the spring of 2023 in order to inform the Golden Valley community about the program, current groundwater conditions, and gather community input on the future of the program. The Board of County Commissioners voted to pause the fees June through December of this year to allow the County time to gather additional community input, anticipating the Board of County Commissioners giving direction for the future of the Program by the end of this calendar year. 

“I know there was a lot of outreach that happened when you brought this to us, and then this Board gave you additional direction to go out and seek more public input, which you did, very quickly,” Chair Alexis Hill said. “I think it shows Washoe County’s commitment to doing this right, and I know it’s been a long time coming. What I’ve learned in my two and half years at Washoe County is that we take things slowly to do them right.”  

2. Board reviews COVID Green Recovery Plan: The COVID-19 pandemic was a disaster that affected every community, and with the support of federal recovery funding, Washoe County built a recovery plan that would ensure the community is in a stronger position than before the disaster hit.

Emergency Management Administrator Kelly Echeverria served as the recovery manager, and presented the Green Recovery Plan to the County Commission. The goals of the plan are to:  

  • Promote the physical and mental health and financial well-being of residents  
  • Facilitate business continuity and resiliency within the Washoe County and partner organizations to return to a more normal state by integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies, and the environment (Build Back Better)  
  • Learn from the organizational response to the pandemic in order to better prepare for a similar event in the future 

“Let no disaster go to waste, let’s learn from our mistakes and do better next time,” Echeverria said. 

When the pandemic forced the closure of stores and restaurants, access to food became a vital concern for many in our community. As environmental factors contributed to the severity of the pandemic, it was apparent that recovery needed to address those factors and build a stronger, healthier community going forward – this is the “green” in the Green Recovery Plan.  

The green goals are: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions; enhance resilience and mitigate climate change impacts; strengthen food security and increase access to healthy foods; invest in equitable, multimodal transportation infrastructure; and establish an urban forestry program.  

“What I really like about the recovery aspect of this action plan is the focus on the social determinants of health. We’re looking at all constituents, how they’re born, how they learn, how they grow, where they worship, how they age… all of those pieces are really embedded into these goals, and I want to applaud you for that,” Commissioner Mariluz Garcia said. “Thank you for taking a holistic approach.”

3. Board adopts ordinance amendment prohibiting participating in and spectating of illegal sideshows: Trick driving displays, also known as “sideshows,” have become increasingly prevalent in Washoe County, often drawing large crowds and resulting in injuries, citations, arrests, and damage to property and vehicles. These incidents pose unique dangers to the community and challenges to law enforcement because they are commonly organized via social media, word of mouth, or other methods of instant communication, and they frequently entail a series of related incidents that begin in one location where individuals involved scatter upon the arrival of law enforcement and then use the same communication methods to move to a new location and repeat the same incident, only to scatter again upon the arrival of law enforcement.

The amended ordinance now recognizes these sideshow activities as reckless driving and public nuisances that can be treated as imminent threats to public health, safety, and welfare, and enforced as such.  

The City of Reno and City of Sparks passed similar ordinances earlier this year, so today’s action brings the county in line with its closest partners and empowers law enforcement to uniformly and comprehensively enforce the prohibition of these activities.  

4. Board approves contract for renovations of the Incline Village Justice Court Community Center: Washoe County Incline Village Justice Court Incline Community Center (ICC) Renovations Project consists of converting a portion of the existing Washoe County Community Center to serve as the relocated Incline Justice Court. The renovation will include a courtroom, judge’s office, judge’s assistant office, bailiff/security office, District Attorney’s office, Court Clerk’s office, Public Defender’s office, security screening area and additional security measures. Washoe County received two bids for the project, and the Board voted to award the contract to Miller Electric Company Inc., doing business as PEC Contracting and Engineering, in the amount of $561,600. The approved action included a separate project contingency fund in the amount of $84,240 for the total project not to exceed $645,840.

5. Board approves donations to county departments: The Board of County Commissioners approved the following donations:

  • Donations totaling just over $51,000 for the Washoe County Child Advocacy Center. Friends of the Washoe County Child Advocacy Center donated $48,000, Jim Lahey donated $1,000, and Clasen Quality Chocolate donated $2,680.  
  • One surplus 2012 Palm Harbor manufactured home valued at $63,000 from the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District to provide additional employee housing for the Gerlach Road Operation and Maintenance Program. Washoe County has an Employee Housing Policy that allows staff to reside in a County-owned residence in exchange for caretaker or emergency response purposes in outlying areas such as Gerlach, Vya and within some county-owned parks. 

“This is a good example of how our different departments can lean on each other for support,” Commissioner Mariluz Garcia said. 

6. Commissioners allocate District Special Funds to local nonprofits: Each County Commissioner has discretionary funds to allocate to nonprofit, religious, or governmental organizations that benefit the The Board approved the the following allocations in District 3and District 4:

  • $23,500 to the Nevada Water Innovation Institute to support the program’s research and strategic partnerships that address the scarcity of water in northern Nevada to promote health and economic growth in the Truckee Meadows  
  • $10,000 to the Nevada Peer Support Network, which provides quality mental health resources and support to first responders and hospital health care professionals 
  • $2,500 grant to Latino Arte and Culture, a bilingual theater group that creates, produces and presents the Hispanic-Latinx diverse arts and culture to a wider community  
  • $2,500 grant to Black Wall Street to support their mission to provide resources and services to Black and under-served communities, which increases their self-sufficiency and sustainability 
  • $5,000 to ReDirect Athletics, which uses fitness to help youths target their anger, depression, and many more into a healthy outlet rather than bottling it up or letting it out in inappropriate ways. 

“We teach kids how to be resilient, how to react, how to be independent, and how to take the blows of life that come at them daily,” Marcell LaGrone, founder of ReDirect Athletics, said. “I say we don’t serve at-risk kids because every kid in America is at risk, so every kid is welcome.”