Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners meeting  

by | Jul 18, 2023

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

1. Washoe County launches new online public comment platform: Assistant to the County Manager Erick Willrich presented a new tool, SpeakUp, available through Granicus, the county’s public meeting platform, that will allow residents to provide public comment at Board of County Commissioners meetings online. This effort will expand the opportunity to participate in meetings to those who cannot attend in person.

“This allows folks to further address the commission on agenda items and on general public comment. We do have folks who have already participated on this platform,” Chair Alexis Hill said. “Thank you for your leadership on this program, and I’m very excited about this launching. Many of my constituents are not able to make these meetings and they’re excited to now be able to participate in meetings. 

E-Comments will be limited to 2,250 characters – the approximate equivalent of three minutes of speech, the limit for public comment in meetings. Commenters will not be able to respond to other comments and can only comment once per item. Those who wish to appear in person to speak during meetings can register to speak through the same portal, eliminating the need to queue up at the meeting and fill out a comment card. 

“In reality, this helps us cast the net wider, and we always want to move forward in terms of access and equity,” Commissioner Mariluz Garcia said. “Email, phone, text, now e-Comment: This allows us to hear more and see more and helps us keep our finger on the pulse.”

2. Board approves ARPA grants for 20 community projects and organizations: As Washoe County continues to award grants from its $91 million in federal ARPA funding that was received approximately two years ago, the awards must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners. With today’s 20 grants, $90 million have been awarded out to more than 100 community projects and organizations.

Today’s tranche of awards total just over $6 million for the following projects 

  • $1.5 million to Northern Nevada HOPES, a federally qualified health center, in support of construction of a new public health clinic to provide services in the community 
  • $1 million to Children’s Cabinet in support of the Oddie Blvd Project to enhance childcare capacity in Washoe County  
  • Just over $630,000 to Raise the Future in support of the Intensive Recruitment Program for Washoe County foster children and youth  
  • $500,000 to the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District in support of expanding its ambulance fleet  
  • $400,000 to the Tahoe Micro Transit Pilot Project in support of increasing public transit options in North Lake Tahoe  
  • $350,000 to the Tahoe Lending Locals Project to incentivize Lake Tahoe homeowners to provide long-term rentals to residents rather than short-term vacation rentals  
  • $314,000 to Community Health Alliance, a federally qualified health center, in support of on-site health care services at the Washoe County Our Place facility  
  • $250,000 to the Nevada Museum of Art in support of expanding art research and education in the community 
  • $250,000 to Bristlecone Recovery Center in support of residential treatment services 
  • $200,000 to ReBuilding Together Northern Nevada in support of rehabilitating homes owned by Washoe County residents with priority to seniors and veteran homeowners  
  • $200,000 to Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful in support of cleaning up public lands in Washoe County and educating the public on waste 
  • $150,000 to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada in support of Start-Up Week and entrepreneurship initiatives 
  • $100,000 to the Truckee River Improvements Project in collaboration with the City of Reno to develop a Truckee River Master Plan and support project implementation 
  • $75,000 to Incline Village and Crystal Bay Community and Business Association (IVCBA) in support of Incline Mainstreet Initiatives  
  • $75,000 to the Black Community Collective in support of Entrepreneur Literacy and Financing programming for minority-owned businesses in Washoe County 
  • $60,000 to The Generator, a community arts makerspace, in support of expanding children’s arts programs  
  • $50,000 to Soulful Seeds in support of the garden at Our Place in the amount of $50,000  
  • $47,500 to the Tahoe Prosperity Center in support of the Envision Tahoe program to diversify and strengthen the economy in Lake Tahoe  
  • $40,000 to the Reno Air Races Association in support of operations for the annual air races event 
  • $37,500 to the Tahoe Transportation District for Washoe County’s FY24 annual contribution

3. University of Nevada, Reno President presents his vision of the future of the University: President Brian Sandoval shared an overview of the latest achievements and his vision for the future of the University of Nevada, Reno. As a Nevada land-grant university founded in 1874, the University serves 21,000 students. The University is a comprehensive, doctoral university, classified as an R1 institution with very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Additionally, it has attained the prestigious “Carnegie Engaged” classification, reflecting its student and institutional impact on civic engagement and service, fostered by extensive community and statewide collaborations. Sandoval noted that 24 percent of the student population is Hispanic and will be eligible to become a Hispanic Serving University after 25 percent or more of the student population is Hispanic. Sandoval also said 67 percent of University graduates are working full- or part-time post-graduation, and 72 percent of those are employed within Nevada – 64 percent within the greater Reno area.

“We’re excited and proud of the fact that many of our University graduates were also educated in the Washoe County School District before moving on to work in industries in northern Nevada,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval also reiterated his stated goal of reaching enrollment of 23,000 students by 2025, and 25,000 students by 2030. He also spoke about the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe, previously Sierra Nevada University, and that the University will launch the first Semester at Tahoe this fall.

“The opportunity for collaboration is endless, and let’s talk about all the things that we can do at Tahoe, like investing in transportation and workforce housing and all the things that will make that community better for students to visit,” Chair Alexis Hill said.

Sandoval also addressed the University’s Collegiate Academy program that offers high school students the opportunity to complete a year or more of college courses at a discounted cost while still enrolled in high school. There are 26 schools in Nevada that are a part of this program, six of which are in the Washoe County School District.

Finally, this fall will mark the kickoff of the university’s sesquicentennial – 150th – anniversary year.

4. Board approves donations to county programs and departments: The Board voted to approved the following donations: 

  • Eight Stryker Lifepak CR2 Automated External Defibrillators (AED) valued at $10,800 from the Leona and Harry Helmsley Charitable Trust to the Washoe County Department of Alternative Sentencing (DAS) as a part of its Nevada First Responder AED Project for use by DAS officers in the field.   
  • $300,000 from the Wilbur May Foundation, $200,000 of which is to be for general operating support of the Wilbur D. May Center and $100,000 to support FY24 temporary exhibits at the Wilbur D. May Museum.

5. Chair Hill allocates District Special Fund to Clean Tahoe Program: The Board voted to approved Chair Hill’s allocation of $10,000 from the District 1 Special Fund to the Clean Tahoe Program to aid its efforts in proper litter and trash management and education.