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

1. Board tables fees for excessive public records requests and directs staff to provide more information for a future meeting: Today the Board of County Commissioners considered a proposal that the county follow the Washoe County Health District and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District in charging fees for certain public records requests (PRRs) that require excessive staff time to fulfill. The fees could be waived, particularly for journalistic, educational, or charitable purposes. Washoe County’s PRR policy already allows for the charging of actual costs incurred, including hard-copy reproduction and digital file storage devices. The proposed policy revision was due to an increase in intentionally broad and exhaustive PRRs that divert county employees from their jobs for excessive periods of time in order to fulfill the PRRs. 

“There has been what I would call a trend in requests that are designed to simply bog down and overburden county departments and their staff and their resources by asking for records that are inordinate and massive in volume and would take many, many, many hours to complete,” Assistant District Attorney Nathan Edwards said. He further explained that the rule would help address limits on “what resources are left to carry out mission-specific items rather than public records requests.” 

The Board of County Commissioners asked the D.A.’s office to explore fees that other cities and counties have enacted, and to find a way to better define what constitutes excessive PRRs.  

“I understand the need, but what I don’t want to happen is that because we received a request for 300,000 emails, it becomes a knee-jerk reaction to change a policy. I’d like to see more data and understand better why this has come forward, Vice Chair Vaughn Hartung said. “I want to do it our way, but I also know that other municipalities can come up with solutions and it’s been tested, so I’d like to understand better how this has been dealt with elsewhere. We have to be data-driven and understand better when we’re changing policies, or we’re doomed to fail.” 

The item was tabled for re-visitation at a future meeting. 

2. County extends deadline to provide feedback on redistricting: The Board of County Commissioners is tasked with approving Commission district boundaries after each U.S. Census. The 2020 Census revealed population growth county-wide, and in order to keep each of the five Commission districts as equal in population as possible, a series of possible redistricting maps has been developed. The county is seeking public input on the potential districts, and extended the deadline to provide feedback to October 22. Residents can view the district maps online and respond to a redistricting survey here. For those without computer access, the maps are on display in the atrium of the County Complex Building A, and at seven area libraries. Physical surveys are available in those locations as well. Learn more here 

3. Board approves agreement with Reno Housing Authority to administer direct payments for emergency rental assistance: Washoe County has an emergency rental assistance program in the amount of $1.5 million through June 30, 2022, but does not have a mechanism to efficiently distribute those funds to residents. In order to expedite the assistance, the county will pass the funds through the Reno Housing Authority to distribute directly to residents. Washoe County’s rental assistance program is available to residents of Sparks or unincorporated Washoe County, and may be used to pay for rent, rental arrears, utilities and utilities arrears, and other expenses related to housing. The City of Reno has a similar program, also managed by the Reno Housing Authority. 

4. County receives FEMA grant to purchase flood-damaged homes in Lemmon Valley: Five properties that were involved in the 2016-17 flooding of Swan Lake will be purchased by Washoe County using a FEMA grant of just over $1 million. The county will provide a required match of approximately $345,000. The Board approved the grant and the plan to purchase the homes and demolish them to create open space that will mitigate future flooding of these parcels. 

5. Board approves grant for Truckee River water quality: The Truckee River Fund awarded a grant of just over $219,000 to improve water quality of the Truckee River through outreach, education, data collection, river cleanups, sharps-disposal containers, and maintenance of the bathroom facilities along the river. After accepting the grant to cover the cost of cleanup, the Board then approved an agreement with the Karma Box Project to facilitate the cleanup work through the River Stewards Program. Karma Box Project will manage outreach to those camped along the river, while the River Stewards Program will conduct the cleanup and maintenance work. 

6. Board holds public hearing on transferal of ownership of Wildcreek Golf Course: During a Board of County Commissioners meeting in September, the Board adopted a resolution of intent to transfer ownership of Wildcreek Golf Course to First Tee of Northern Nevada.  Today’s hearing provided a forum for the public to weigh in on the transfer. First Tee must continue to operate the course as a public course for the benefit of Washoe County residents, and if it fails to do so, ownership would revert back to Washoe County. 

7. Board appoints Judge Elliott Sattler and Chief Deputy Jeff Clark to the Nevada Local Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council: The Nevada Local Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council consists of 19 voting members, two of which are from Washoe County. The Council advises the Sentencing Commission by identifying statewide county-level programs and treatment needs for those involved in the criminal justice system in the effort to reduce recidivism. The Council also makes recommendations on grants and implements and measures the effectiveness of grants. Each member serves a two-year term, and the Board today appointed Judge Elliott Sattler and Washoe County Chief Deputy Jeff Clark to serve through June 2023.