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Commissioners provide direction on COVID-19 budget impacts

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Ventetuolo

Reno, Nev. April 14, 2020. The following report highlights an important agenda item from the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:

1. COVID-19 Presentation from Health District and Budget Impacts. The Board of County Commissioners heard an update regarding the COVID-19 Regional Response including current case count, emergency response, hospital surge capacity and planning, and emergency response in rural areas outside the Reno and Sparks areas. The presentation was given by Washoe County Health District Officer, Kevin Dick and COVID-19 Regional Response Incident Commander, Sam Hicks.

For a link to the latest information on COVID-19 in Washoe County, visit www.covid19washoe.com.

Commissioners also heard a presentation providing a status report on the  COVID-19 financial impacts to Washoe County. With the record number of unemployment claims filed, and Governor Sisolak’s Directive to close all non-essential businesses and for citizens to stay at home to reduce the spread of the COVID 19 virus, a sharp decline in economic activity and corresponding decline in the County’s revenue is expected. In addition, as per the Interlocal Agreement for Incident Command and Coordinated Response to COVID 19, Washoe County is incurring significant up-front costs for the emergency response to meet the health and safety needs of our community during this time of crisis. These costs were not previously budgeted, and resources must be made immediately available from the current Fiscal Year 2020 Budget. In addition, the longer-term economic and financial impacts to the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget need to be considered.

“We are not taking an alarmist approach, but we need to act fast and be prepared for the long-term budget impacts of COVID-19,” stated Assistant County Manager, Christine Vuletich.

This presentation provides information on the financial impact and needed budget adjustments recommended to provide funding for the emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis and for ongoing County operations due to revenue losses. Budget adjustments include a hiring freeze, purchasing freeze, Capital Improvement Projects reductions and project deferrals, utilization of the General Fund contingency budget, the County's Stabilization Reserve, and a portion of the General Fund balance.

The Board unanimously approved moving forward on the needed budget adjustments.

2. Commissioners approve updated Employee Policies. Commissioners approved the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy effective retroactive to April l, 2020 which provides eligible Washoe County employees with emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic consistent with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Also approved were two other policy updates; the Washoe County Telecommuting Policy, modernized to provide guidelines for telecommuting work schedules as needed to further improve provision of services to the public, and the Washoe County Military Leave Policy, amended to provide the process to be followed when employees are absent from work to perform uniformed service.

3. Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and UNR Early Head Start Collaboration. County Commissioners approved an agreement between the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Nevada’s Early Head Start Program to provide services and support of pregnant women who are incarcerated in the Regional Detention Facility. The program provides prenatal and parenting education support and services to inmates and assists inmates with long-term planning for their unborn child.

4. Bowers Mansion Pool Expansion Project Approved. Thanks to a grant from the William N. Pennington Foundation grant, Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space is able to expand the existing concrete pool deck to provide a rentable area with shade structures, picnic tables, and benches. With nearly 300,000 patrons during the summer months, with these additions, the Bowers Mansion Pool could potentially operate with a positive revenue stream.

Based on a competitive bid process, the lowest responsible bidder was Houston Smith Construction in the amount of $211,730.00.

5. Commissioners approve Phase II of Tahoe Clarity Project. In collaboration with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), Washoe County entered into an Inter-Local Agreement and project in 2013 to participate in an urban stormwater pollutant reduction program at Lake Tahoe, known as the Lake Tahoe Clarity Protection Program. Phase II provides additional scope of work and budget in the amount of $52,000 to finalize the development of the lake clarity protection messaging and outreach program, to be carried out by Nichols Consulting Engineers.

6. Commissioners approve appointments to Boards and Commissions. The Board of County Commissioners approved the following appointment:

7. Commissioners direct Special District Funds. The Board of County Commissioners has approved special district funds disbursement for:
  • Commission Chair Bob Lucey in the amount of $10,000, to support the Community Foundation of Western Nevada for the Food for Heroes Fund and a grant to the Friends of the Washoe County Library to support the South Valleys Library STEAM Program.
  • Commissioner Kitty Jung in the amount of $20,000 to support the University of Nevada Reno Foundation to support Senior Outreach Services,  grant to the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation to support the employees participating in the Trails Challenge, and a grant to the Washoe County Human Services Agency to support gift cards for basic needs of community members affected by CVID-19. various arts and cultural programming throughout Washoe County.
  • Commissioner Jeanne Herman in the amount of $17,000, to support the Nevada State High School Rodeo Association for the Washoe County High School Rodeo Club, a grant to Board of Regents of the University of Nevada to support Washoe County 4-H Livestock Leaders, a grant to Saving Grace Academy to support the purchase of daycare equipment, a grant to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada to purchase food to aid in the organization’s COVID-19 response, a grant to Washoe County Emergency Management to purchase Personal Protective Equipment to provide to first responders and medical professionals, and a grant to Salvation Army of Washoe County to support Reno’s Men’s Adult Rehabilitation Program.



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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »