The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:
1. The Registrar of Voters presented its methods of safeguarding and maintaining voter rolls: Numerous federal and state laws dictate how the Registrar of Voters maintains the database of voters. Washoe County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula, joined by Deputy Secretary of Elections for the Nevada Secretary of State Mark Wlaschin, presented an overview of those laws and how her office safeguards the voter rolls.
The Registrar’s office performs daily list maintenance using notifications from the Secretary of State, mail notices from other states, obituaries, and other resources. Updates are also made from change of address forms from the U.S. Postal Service, and inactive-voter mailings. The Registrar also uses the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) for in-state and cross-state updates, as well as to remove duplicate and deceased voters. Using these tools and more, the Registrar reported that more than 29,500 Washoe County registered voters were removed from the voter rolls between 2019 to 2020.
“Thank you for bringing this info here,” Commissioner Kitty Jung said. “I think it’s good for us all to have a stable starting place to discuss this, and I encourage residents who have concerns about the voting laws to talk to their legislators, they are the ones who can change NRS.”
“Thank you for participating today. I think that you’ve provided quite a bit of transparency,” Chair Bob Lucey said. “A very safe and public election is what everyone aims for.”
2. Commissioners accepted a grant to oversee Safe Camp program: Truckee Meadows Water Authority recently awarded a $200,000 grant to Washoe County for the launch of the Safe Camp program at the new Nevada Cares Campus. Commissioners voted unanimously today to accept the grant, which will help pay for the establishment of the Safe Camp location in what was previously the Governor’s Bowl. The approved item also allocates $250,000 from General Fund Contingency and funds the creation of a new full-time position, a Homeless Services Program Specialist, to manage the safe camp program.
The Nevada Cares Campus is a regional effort to provide services to those experiencing homelessness. The campus will include a shelter, a safe camping location for those who opt to live outdoors, and future rehabilitation services and transitional housing.
3. Artown comes to Rancho San Rafael Park: Artown, the month-long celebration of arts in Reno, was canceled in July 2020 due to the pandemic. In March, Commissioners approved the county’s sponsorship of the event by using Rancho San Rafael Regional Park as the primary event venue, a value of $66,000. Artown Executive Director Beth MacMillan today showed Commissioners the event concept, including four-person viewing pods that will allow for safe social distancing while also allowing the maximum number attendees to enjoy the art and musical performances. Admission will be per pod rather than per person.
In years past, Artown performances were scheduled throughout the Truckee Meadows. This year’s iteration will use Rancho San Rafael as the primary location for all performances. The venue will be fenced and lighted, and parking will be available throughout the park. The 31-day event will feature 31 local restaurants to sell grab-and-go meals.
“I think it’s great that you didn’t sit back and wait for the world to happen to you, you decided to manifest how this would happen this year,” Commissioner Kitty Jung said. “Our summer special events really define us as a community. I believe that this is the summer that government plays an important role to prop up special events. Most special events took a major loss last year and are still unsteady in moving forward. This Board of Commissioners should take an active role to prop these events up.”
4. Commissioners approved several items related to management of Wildcreek and Washoe golf courses: In three actions today, Commissioners addressed the management of county-owned Wildcreek Golf Course. The course closed in 2020 during the pandemic, and MAZZ Golf was contracted to operate the course on a limited basis beginning July 2020. Commissioners approved the extension of this arrangement, amending the Golf Management License through Dec. 31, 2021, and clarified the license fee paid by MAZZ Golf from 50 percent of gross profit earned to 50 percent of net profit earned.
Upon approval of the continued management by MAZZ Golf, Commissioners then voted to approve stage 2 of the Unsolicited Proposal Policy, which entails possible development of a long-term agreement for continued management of Wildcreek. MAZZ Golf’s proposal for continued management includes renovating and rebuilding the course, using funds from the sale of land to the Washoe County School District, as well as partnering with the nonprofit organization First Tee of Northern Nevada.
Finally, Commissioners approved the continued operation and maintenance of Washoe Golf Course by Bell-Man Golf Inc. Bell-Man’s current five-year contract will expire on June 30, 2021. The company has succeeded in meeting all terms and expectations from the Board, and commissioners agreed to renew the contract for another five-year term with two five-year extensions. The new agreement will update the financial agreement and require Bell-Man to prepare a five-year capital improvement program and budget. CIP funds will be used for major capital improvements, equipment, and improvements to the course.
“I just want to say thank you to Bell-Man for working with the county to find some mutually agreed-upon contract changes and I’m really looking forward to working with you on enhancing the Washoe Golf Course,” Commissioner Alexis Hill said.
5. Funding for Sheriff’s Office remodel approved: Commissioners approved an award from the U.S. Department of Justice for approximately $1.5 million to remodel the main lobby and and inmate visiting area of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. The remodel is a response to the COVID pandemic and will limit the interaction of visitors. The grant will reimburse costs for the remodel and will require no match from the county.