The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:
1. County Commission names new chair and vice chair: The Board of County Commissioners kicked off the first meeting of the new year by naming a new chair and vice chair, per County statute. Commissioner Vaughn Hartung, representing District 4, will serve as chair for a term of two years, and Commissioner Alexis Hill, representing District 1, will serve as vice chair for a two-year term.
“It has been my pleasure to serve as Chair for the last 24 months. It’s a title, but it’s more than a title, it’s a responsibility,” Outgoing Chair Bob Lucey said. “The election of Chair does not change the voting structure. We are all still a member of a five-member Board. It’s been my honor to serve, and I thank you for the support to allow me to do that.”
County Commissioners also serve on nearly three dozen boards and commissions ranging from public health to business development to transportation and tourism. Commissioners discussed the terms and duties of these boards and approved their representation to the boards.
2. Board advances redistricting map in first reading of proposed commission districts: The Board of County Commissioners previously approved the proposed commission districts that were reconfigured after the 2020 U.S. Census. The redistricting process involved a period of public input and six versions of district maps. Redistricting will amend Chapter 5 of the Washoe County Code related to County Commission Election Districts, and must undergo public hearings. Today’s hearing was a first reading of the ordinance, and it will go before the Board again for a second reading and final approval on Jan. 25.
3. Washoe County Comptroller’s Office receives prestigious Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting: The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is given to government entities whose annual comprehensive financial reports (ACFR) achieve the highest standards in government accounting and financial reporting, including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate the County’s financial story. This will be the39th consecutive certificate awarded to Washoe County by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA).
“Our budget staff members and Comptroller’s Office do a phenomenal job of managing these funds, and being very conservative in a financial nature,” Lucey said. “For the 39th year in a row we have achieved the excellence in financial reporting award. A big round of applause to budget and comptrollers – to manage a budget of our size, it’s very tedious.”
4. Board approves budget-saving bundle of services for Sheriff’s Office: The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office presented a bundle of services under one provider, Axon Enterprise Inc., that will save the county approximately $459,000 per year. The Sheriff’s Office currently has several contracts with Axon to support body-worn cameras, fleet car cameras, Tasers, and video software and support. By bundling the single annual contracts into one larger five-year contract, the county will see substantial savings.
5. Board approves amendment to contract for effluent pipeline and storage in Hidden Valley: In 2021, Washoe County completed the first phase of a project design to construct a storage tank and pipeline to carry treated effluent to the Hidden Valley area of Washoe County. The Phase 1 design included surveying and mapping, geotechnical field investigations, permitting and preparation of a final design and specifications for bidding on the extension of the water line. Phase 2 provides final design of the pipeline from Veterans Parkway to Hidden Valley Regional Park and storage, access roadway, and on-site irrigation services, all in the continued effort of Washoe County to expand the use of high-quality reclaimed water within the South Truckee Meadows, thereby reducing the demands on potable water for irrigation purposes. The Board today approved an amendment to the contract with SB Engineering in the amount of approximately $245,000 for additional engineering design services for Phase 2. This brings the total amount of the contract to just over $445,000.
6. Human Services Agency receives $20 million grant for Child Welfare Services: In November 2021, the Washoe County Human Services Agency received a subgrant from the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Title IV-E funds. The Board today approved the receipt of the grant in the amount of $20 million; this is a longstanding recurring grant to the Human Services Agency. Title IV-E funds provide federal reimbursement for a portion of the maintenance and administrative costs – including independent living programs for children, guardianship assistance, and adoptive assistance for children with special needs – of foster care for children who meeting specified federal eligibility requirements.
7. Federal recovery funding allocated to staffing for Cares Campus: The Board approved $7.9 million in federal funding to cover the creation of 28 full-time positions at the Cares Campus, the region’s homeless shelter and support services. The funding is an allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and includes $1.8 million that was approved at a Board meeting in December to cover increased capacity and an additional position at the Cares Campus to ensure more robust and effective emergency homeless shelter services and case management. The additional funding approved today will support the new positions for up to 18 months and include a medical billing specialist, case managers, mental health counselors, and other support positions, and an amendment to the position of homeless services analyst.
8. Board approves lease of Reno Housing Authority property for the Cares Campus: In December 2021, the Reno Housing Authority leased a vacant building adjacent to the Cares Campus for the use of an enclosed shelter for Safe Camp and an expanded emergency shelter. The cost to the county for the six-month lease is $1. Today the Board formally approved the lease agreement.
9. Commissioners approve Special District Funds for Districts 3 and 4: Commissioners have a discretionary budget to fund projects that directly benefit their respective districts. Projects must be approved by the Board as a whole.
Chair Vaughn Hartung proposed funding for three projects in District 4:
- $10,000 for Awaken, a nonprofit that works to eradicate commercial sexual exploitation
- $10,000 for Soulful Seeds, which works to reduce food insecurity by providing fresh, healthy food to the most vulnerable populations in Washoe County
- $10,000 to support the Spanish Springs Library and its programs and seasonal offerings such as free tax help and early voting.
Commissioner Kitty Jung, representing District 3, proposed $3,000 for the nonprofit Truckee Meadows Tomorrow to support the Truckee Meadows Community Progress Report, which provides information and understanding of issues facing the community and highlights positive progress in identified communities through quality-of-life data indicators.