For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Ventetuolo
Reno, Nev. May 12, 2020. The following highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:
1. Washoe County is experiencing significant FY 2021 budget impacts due to COVID-19. Washoe County is experiencing significant financial impacts from COVID-19 due to both unplanned and increasing emergency response costs, and abruptly declining revenues due to business closures. Today, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners were presented with the County Manager’s recommended Fiscal Year 2021 Budget totaling $714.6 million. The County’s General Fund represents $355.5 million, or 50% of the total budget.
The economic outlook, nationwide and in Washoe County from to the COVID-19 global pandemic, is unprecedented. During the last six weeks, 33.5 million unemployment claims were filed in the U.S., which is more than three times as many claims as were filed during the Great Recession. In the State of Nevada, the unemployment rate as of April 25, was 19.9%, the highest in the State’s history.
From mid-March through June 30, 2020, the County’s General Fund budget shortfall is estimated to total $24.6 million. In addition, the financial impact for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1, is projected to be $40.5 million, for a total budget shortfall over 15 months of more than $65 million.
Washoe County has implemented measures to shore up this shortfall with the following goals in mind:
- Maintain services to the community with a focus on protecting public health
- Keep employees working
- Use cash reserves wisely
The immediate measures include a hiring freeze, a purchasing freeze, reallocation of budgeted contingency, deferral of budgeted capital improvement projects that have not yet begun, use of stabilization reserves, and fund balance.
In the Fiscal Year 2021 recommended Budget, the hiring and purchasing freezes will continue, along with the following measures to address a projected General Fund shortfall in revenue of $37 million:
- Deferral of over $8 million in capital projects
- Reallocation of $5 million of contingency budget
- Reduction of $2.5 million in pre-funded Other Post-Employment Benefits contribution
- Use of $505,000 of Marijuana Fund revenue
- Other personnel cost savings totaling $5 million
- Use of General Fund balance (cash reserves) of $15.7 million
Going forward, there are continuing concerns about the financial impacts on the County if revenue shortages become prolonged, and costs increase due to pending litigation, and possible loss of funding and unfunded mandates resulting from the State’s possible upcoming special legislative session.
On May 11, Governor Sisolak declared a state of fiscal emergency arising from the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has put on public services in the State of Nevada. The financial impact to Washoe County during the fiscal year will be closely monitored and further budget reductions may be necessary.
The Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing to adopt the final budget on May 19, 2020 during the next scheduled meeting.
2. Funding approved to support seniors during Coronavirus outbreak Commissioners approved a $23,871 subgrant award from the State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division to support the Human Services Agency’s efforts in providing home delivered meals to Washoe County seniors during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Home Delivered Meal Program ensures that homebound seniors are provided nutritious meals. The grant will provide supplemental funding to address the needs of the larger numbers of seniors either permanently or temporarily homebound due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, Commissioners approved a $25,000 grant from Meals on Wheels America COVID-19 Response Fund to help purchase sanitation supplies, meals, additional fuel and maintenance costs needed to meet the demand on the Home Delivered Meals program during the outbreak.
3. Hundred of mattresses donated to Human Services Agency. County Commissioners approved a donation of 340 mattresses from Aaron’s Furniture to the Washoe County Human Services Agency (HSA) for the Our Place campus. The donation would not have been possible without Nevada Attorney General Ford.
“We express our heartfelt gratitude to Aaron’s Furniture for generously giving hundreds of mattresses to HSA so we can prepare a comfortable home for Washoe County’s most vulnerable women and families,” said HSA Director Amber Howell.
Our Place will support hundreds of Washoe County women and families experiencing homelessness. Our Place is currently under construction and expected to open later this spring.
4. Commission Re-appointment. Commissioners approved the following re-appointment:
- Francine Donshick, Washoe County Planning Commission reappointment to represent Commission District 3 as an at-large member to fill a term beginning on July 1, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2024.