For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Ventetuolo
Reno, Nevada. April 26, 2016. The following report highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Videos of County Commission meetings are replayed regularly on WCTV (Charter Ch. 193). You may also watch videos on-demand online.
1. County Manager’s recommended Fiscal Year 2016-17 Budget. The County Commission was presented a status report of budget recommendations for the next fiscal year.
Approximately 80 percent of the Washoe County budget is funded from two sources: property taxes (49 percent) and what is called the Consolidated Tax, or C-Tax (31 percent). The C-Tax primarily comprises the County’s share of local sales taxes but also includes liquor, cigarette, real property transfer tax and Government Service Tax.
C-Tax revenues are projected to increase eight percent both in the current fiscal year and next fiscal year. However, the increase in property taxes for existing development is near zero in Fiscal Year 2016-17 because the property tax cap (which caps how much a property owner’s taxes can go up) is only 0.2 percent. For a home valued at $200,000, a property owner will pay $5.12 more in taxes in Fiscal Year 2016-17 than the previous fiscal year. This is the first time since the current method of capping property taxes was passed by the Nevada Legislature that the residential cap has fallen below three percent in Washoe County, which is the maximum residential cap. Since Washoe County relies so much on these property taxes to provide services for the community and those taxes have remained stagnant, the impact on Washoe County’s FY 2016-17 Budget is a reduction of $4 million in property taxes compared to a normal year in which the three percent is in place.
In spite of flat growth in existing property tax revenues the past year, C-Tax revenues allowed the FY 16-17 recommended budget to include funding for 63 additional full-time positions, 50 of which required no additional funding from the General Fund. All positions align with the County Commissioners’ Strategic Goals and FY 2017 Initiatives and still keeps the County financially sound.
The following is a list highlighting Washoe County Manager John Slaughter’s recommended Washoe County FY 16-17 Budget:
The recommended budget provides funding for countywide security initiatives to improve security at Washoe County court facilities, the Jan Evans Juvenile Center, County buildings downtown, and the Washoe County Administration Complex. This initiative will add seven deputy sheriffs, one sergeant and 19 county security officers.
The tentative budget includes funding for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Crime Lab. The Crime Lab processed 6,371 DNA samples in 2015.
The recommended budget also includes three additional dispatch personnel, and preparation of conceptual plans for a new infirmary at the Washoe County Regional Detention Facility. The County will also release a request for proposal for a study of regionalization of dispatch services in the next 30 days.
It was recommended that Alternative Sentencing receive three additional positions. Alternative Sentencing is responsible for administration of post-sentencing testing and follow-up. The department’s Electronic Monitoring Program diverted 2,145 jail days at a cost savings of $235,950 in 2015.
Staff would also be added to support a third judge at Sparks Justice Court.
Building & Safety
The recommended budget would fund an additional six and a half new positions for the Building & Safety Division to accommodate the growth of new development and existing services. In 2015, 4,184 business permits were issued by Washoe County, which is several hundred more than the year before. See how Washoe County is helping spur economic development.
Senior Services has seen an eight percent growth across all program areas. To keep up with the needs of the community, the tentative budget provides additional funding for one social services coordinator supervisor. Funding also includes money to replace kitchen equipment at the Washoe County Senior Center, which is where daily meals are prepared and served not only onsite but for the Meals on Wheels program. More than 1,100 seniors receive free, nutritious meals daily from Senior Services. Learn more about various services available to seniors.
The tentative budget includes more funding for two full-time youth advisors for Detention at JuvenileServices. Juvenile Services provides probation, case management and detention services to court wards and at-risk youth ages 10 to 18 years old in Washoe County. In 2015, 89 percent of youth on probation with Juvenile Services didn't commit a gross misdemeanor/felony in a subsequent 12 month period.
The recommended budget provides funding for four additional positions needed to support the innovative specialty courts in Washoe County.
It is recommended that more than $13 million in additional funds go toward projects at Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space. Funding for the projects would be included in the FY17 Capital Improvement Program. Projects planned include North Valley Regional Park (Phase 5) and significant land acquisitions.
Washoe County manages more than 13,000 acres of parkland, including 48 parks, seven of which are regional parks. More than 13,698 people visit Washoe County’s regional parks every day totaling more than 5 million visitors a year. See how Washoe County maintains its parks.
District Attorney’s Office
The recommended budget also provides funding for a forensic interviewer at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). The center serves as a centralized facility dedicated to the needs of child victims of crime and their families. The CAC opened in 2014. To date, more than 500 victim interviews have been conducted and successful prosecutions of these difficult cases have increased.
The DA’s office is pursuing accreditation for this center from the National Children’s Alliance.
“Although there are still many needs, this budget does a good job of giving Washoe County the resources required to serve citizens in our community,” Washoe County Manager John Slaughter said. “Despite having a flat budget in terms of growth from the previous year, the budget team was able to prioritize and add funding under the direction of the Washoe County Commission’s Strategic Plan.”
The Washoe County Manager will present his recommended final budget to the Commission during a public hearing scheduled for the week of May 16, 2016.
2. Washoe County joins the Stepping Up Initiative to reduce the number of mentally ill people in jails. Washoe County Commissioners announced they are joining the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the American Psychiatric Foundation to support the Stepping Up Initiative.
Washoe County Commissioners are focused on reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in the Washoe County Jail. The County’s efforts to combat incarcerating the mentally ill have been well noted in recent years with the creation of a Mental Health Court, a Triage Center and the Crossroads Program. These facilities and programs work tirelessly to keep people out of jail by offering mental health and substance use disorder treatment and safe housing opportunities.
The goal of Crossroads is to open its doors to local people who have struggled with addiction and homelessness, and help lead them toward a new, more productive path all while using money and resources in a more efficient manner. The cost of incarcerating drug and/or alcohol addicts is significant and shown less effective than rehabilitative options.
Since 2011, Crossroads has grown from six clients to currently housing more than 130. Crossroads saves the community an estimated $7 million a year in jail bookings, encounters with First Responders, Emergency Room and hospital costs, ongoing jail costs, and treatment expenses.
Numbers to Know:
- Counties provide treatment services to an estimated two million people with serious mental illnesses booked into jail each year.
- Nearly three-quarters of adults with serious mental illnesses in jails have multiple substance use disorders.
- Adults with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of recidivism than people without these disorders.
3. County Commissioners approve the Washoe County Regional Emergency Operation Plan. County Commissioners adopted the 2016 Washoe County Regional Emergency Operations Plan (REOP) at Tuesday’s board meeting. The REOP describes how regional partners will work together for each jurisdiction while handling an emergency from the Regional Emergency Operations Center (REOC). The center provides a safe and secure location for local agencies to use to make critical decisions when an emergency affects two or more jurisdictions.
County Commissioners approved significant updates to the REOP regarding regional notifications, technology, damage assessments, mapping and emergency contacts.
The National Incident Management System (NIMS) guidelines require jurisdictions to adopt emergency plans. This process keeps Washoe County in compliance and allows the County to apply for federal emergency preparedness grant funding if needed. The plan took six months of coordination with regional partners and emergency managers and will be updated periodically by Washoe County Emergency Manager Aaron Kenneston.
“This plan is the result of much hard work. I want to thank all of our regional partners for helping put this together to make sure we are ready to respond appropriately if our region faces an emergency or disaster of some kind,” Kenneston said.
4. County Commissioners accept the new Smarter Region economic development brand vision statement. County Commissioners approved the following new Smarter Region economic development brand vision statement: “We are pioneers, innovators and risk takers. We embrace those with the determination to get business done today while setting their sights on the possibilities of a bold, new tomorrow.”
In 2012, Reno, Nevada, was selected as one of 33 cities to receive a Smarter Cities Challenge grant as part of IBM’s citizenship efforts to build a smarter planet. In 2013, the Smarter Cities Project expanded into the Smarter Region Project to make sure all entities in the region were well represented. The Smarter Region Project sent an IBM Smarter team to conduct research and identify ways local governments and other regional leaders can work together to rebrand the region and jumpstart economic growth.
In a 2014 report, the IBM team recommended that regional leaders collaborate to develop a shared regional economic development brand vision statement that promotes the region’s strengths. Recently, The Smarter Region Economic Development Brand Vision Subcommittee was formed to create a vision statement as recommended. The subcommittee includes elected officials from Reno, Sparks, Washoe County, the Washoe County School District and the Nevada System of Higher Education, who worked together to create the Smarter Region economic development brand vision statement. The statement was crafted by the subcommittee after reviewing the summary of community focus groups.
“Now we must enhance our economic development project by implementing this new statement,” Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey (Dist. 2) said. “This is not just about us but about the region we serve as a whole and the million people that we capture in our basin.”
The brand vision statement will be used by the following entities to align all economic development strategies, outreach and messaging: The Chamber, City of Reno, City of Sparks, Desert Research Institute, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, Truckee Meadows Community College, Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency, Washoe County, Washoe County School District and the University of Nevada, Reno.5. County Commissioners approve appointments and reappointments for local commissions and committees. County Commissioners appointed and reappointed the following individuals:
- Lt. Bill Ames to the 911 Emergency Response Advisory Committee effective immediately.
- Larry Chesney to the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission for a full term beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2019.
- James Barnes (reappointment) to the Washoe County Planning Commission to represent At-Large South of the Truckee River on the Planning Commission for a term beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2020 or until a successor is appointed.