Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | Jul 20, 2021

RENO, Nevada (July 20, 2021) — The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:   

1. Board honored county employees who served on COVID Contact Tracing Task Force: When Washoe County schools returned to in-person instruction in fall 2020, there was a great need for contact tracers to limit inadvertent exposure to COVID-19. The need was filled by Washoe County employees whose usual working hours were affected by COVID restrictions in their respective fields, particularly in the county libraries, courts, and senior services divisions. These employees formed a COVID Contact Tracing Task Force that collectively worked more than 500 hours a week, six to seven days a week from December 2020 to June 2021.  

“I really want to say thank you to Mr. Lucey and Mr. Brown for attending our WCSD Board of Trustees meetings, and for recognizing that this was a community issue,” Paul LeMarca, Washoe County School District strategies officer, said. “Thank you as well to the Health District  and Samantha Peirce as well as countless others. The contract tracers served their community in a way they would never have guessed.  There was an eagerness, willingness and acceptance that this was a community issue.” 

Task Force leader Samantha Pierce gave the Board of County Commissioners an overview of the work conducted by the Task Force, and County Manager Eric Brown presented each member a Certificate of Appreciation. 

“This Commission has always been focused on keeping this community safe,” Chair Bob Lucey said. “From this Commissioner, thank you for all of your work and extra time you committed to this project.” 

2. Board approved several items related to American Rescue Plan Act funds: In a series of agenda items, the Board accepted COVID recovery funds, discussed eligible uses of the funds, and approved allocation plans. 

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed into law on March 11, 2021, includes State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), of which Washoe County was awarded more than $91.5 million. Washoe County Chief Financial Officer Christine Vuletich presented an overview of the funding award and the eligible uses, and compliance and reporting requirements by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Washoe County received half its allocation in May, and today the Board formally accepted the grant award.  

Manager Brown added that the county will be conducting outreach to gather public input on the needs of the community and how to best spend recovery funds.  

“I want to be sure we have a level of transparency so everyone understands how we’re spending this. I encourage every commissioner to participate in a forum or outreach in their community to get feedback on what is needed  – the who, when, where, why we spend this,” Chair Lucey said.  

The Board also approved certain uses of SLFRF, including a maximum of $8.5 million, as allowable, to be used for the Nevada Cares Campus and Safe Camp. Washoe County experienced a surge of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an immediate need for more housing and homelessness services. Washoe County joined ranks with the City of Reno and City of Sparks to create and fund the Nevada Cares Campus in response to this growing need. The additional funding approved today will be used to make the campus and Safe Camp winter-ready before winter weather sets in.  

“I am in favor of this item and very excited to see the next phases of the safe camp and homeless shelter and the county taking that over and becoming that national model that we plan to be,” Commissioner Alexis Hill said.  

Another ARPA grant is additional Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA2) of approximately $5.2 million. Washoe County was able to offer $6.5 million in emergency rental assistance from the CARES Act earlier this year. The assistance can be used for rent and utilities, both current and arrears.  

3. Regional Archery Facility Master Plan approved: After numerous public meetings and input from the community, Washoe County Community Services Department, with TSK Architects, presented the Regional Archery Facility Master Plan. The plan includes numerous enhancements, including trail improvements, expanding archery and hunter education facilities, installing amenities such as pit toilets and parking, and constructing an Olympic-style archery range. 

4. Board approved District3 Special Fund disbursement for the Sun Valley Neighborhood Center: Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung, representing District 3, proposed $20,000 from the District 3 Special Fund to be allocated to the Sun Valley General Improvement District for replacement of three sets of double doors at the Sun Valley Neighborhood Center. Spending of such funds must provide substantial benefits to residents and the recipients must be nonprofit or government entities.  

5. Board accepted grant to support children in foster care: The William N. Pennington Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of the Washoe County Human Services Agency. Today the Board of County Commissioners accepted a grant of more than $326,000 that will provide clothing, school supplies, diapers and hygiene supplies, educational toys and Christmas presents to approximately 725 children in foster care.  

“WCHSA cannot thank the Pennington Foundation enough for once again donating such a large sum of money to directly benefit and help normalize the experiences of children in foster care. The money will remain in Washoe County, serving the most vulnerable children in our community by providing school supplies, fall/winter clothing, and Christmas gifts,” Jesse Brown, Human Services Agency supervisor, said. 

Additional donations include: 

  • $220,000 from the Wilbur May Foundation for the FY22 general operations of the Wilbur D. May Center excluding county overhead, and $100,000 for FY22 temporary exhibits at the Wilbur D. May Museum 
  • $3,044 from various donors for Regional Parks and Open Space program and facilities 
  • $11,965 from various donors for the Washoe County Regional Animal Services and its humane care and treatment of sick, injured, stray, abandoned, or at-risk animals.  
  • $20,150 from Peter Lissner to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office for a Mobile Vantage F3 Robot and control system. The donation will pay the balance of the cost of the robot, the first $10,000 of which was paid for by a District 4 Special Fund allocation.