For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Ventetuolo
Reno, Nev. May 19, 2020. The following highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:
1. Commissioners approve FY 2021 Budget. Today, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners were presented with the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Budget totaling $714.6 million. 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.
The economic outlook due to the COVID-19 global pandemic is: unprecedented. During the last eight weeks, 36 million unemployment claims were filed in the U.S., which nearly four times as many claims as were filed during the Great Recession. As of April 25, Nevada’s unemployment rate of 19.9% is the highest in the State’s history. Additionally, consumer spending/retail sales, which represents two-thirds of the U.S economy, was down 21.6 percent in April (year-over-year), which is twice as much as the Great Recession. Second Quarter 2020 GDP, April-June, is, expected to be down more than 30 percent.
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
Washoe County’s Fiscal Year 2020 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.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved adoption of the final Fiscal Year 2021 budget, with the submission to the State of Nevada by June 1, 2020.
2. Commissioners approve Resolution of Intent for Nevada Shared Radio System Bonds. The Nevada Shared Radio System (NSRS) is a shared statewide public safety radio communications system to be used for daily operations, interagency communication, interoperability and emergency communications, supporting 20 regional partner agencies in Washoe County. The new NSRS will replace the existing 800-Megahertz analog Washoe County Regional Communications System which is nearing “product end of life” and replace it with a digital Project 25 system of current and nationally recognized technology.
Today’s public hearing is the next step in the financing process for the proposed issuance of General Obligation Nevada Shared Radio System Bonds in the maximum principal amount of $15,000,000 for construction of the NSRS. With no public comment or input today, the process with the intent to issue the bonds will proceed.
3. Washoe County Regional Parks & Open Space share an update on operations impacted by COVID-19. Commissioners heard an update on Washoe County's COVID-19 operating plan for Regional Parks from May through August 2020. With Parks a critical component to our community’s physical and mental well-being through this pandemic, the primary objectives of Washoe County Parks have been to ensure the safety of staff and public, and continue to provide essential activities to the community.
To accomplish these goals, Parks operations has three Phases. Currently Phase 1 entails the opening of all parks, trails and open spaces including all park restrooms and trash services. Additionally, all tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts, disc golf courses, dog parks, skate parks, horse arenas, the Regional Archery facility as well as the Regional Shooting Facility. Additionally, both Washoe Golf Course and Sierra Sage Golf Course are open for play.
Plans for Phase II include the reopening of Parks Offices, the Davis Creek Campground, The Hive at Lazy 5 Regional Park, Bower’s Mansion Tours and contract classes.
Plans for Phase III include the opening of Community Centers, Wilbur D. May Museum, Galena Creek Visitor Center, playgrounds, group picnic areas, athletic field permits, volunteer groups, the Wilbur D. May Arboretum Garden Rentals and the Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater.
Due to the financial and health uncertainties, the difficult decision was made not to open Washoe County Aquatic Facilities this season, which includes the Bowers Mansion Pool, the Melio Gaspari Waterplay Park at Lazy 5 Regional Park and the North Valleys Splash Park at North Valleys Regional Park.
“This has been one of the most challenging times in our community, and we are trying to figure out how to interact with the community while keeping them safe,” said Chair Lucey. “While I am disappointed at the closure of our aquatic facilities, however, I understand it is to best serve our community now and in coming years.”
4. The Board of County Commissioners issue the following proclamations:
- Commissioners proclaim May 17-23, 2020 as National Public Works Week. The proclamation recognizes public works professionals dedication on infrastructure, facilities and services that are of vital importance to sustainable and resilient communities and to the public health, high quality of life and well-being of the people of Washoe County.
- Commissioners proclaim May 2020 as International Internal Audit Awareness Month. Professional internal auditors agree to abide by a Code of Ethics that upholds the principles of integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and competency and raise red flags when they discover improper conduct. This proclamation honors auditors for their independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations.
- Commissioners proclaim May 2020 as Older Americans Month. The Washoe County Human Services Agency Senior Services Division serves more than 5,000 seniors in need of support, resources and referrals to community- based programs and case management. This proclamation recognizes the Washoe County Human Services Agency that promotes the importance of taking part in activities, avoiding isolation and encouraging the elderly to enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle.
- Commissioners proclaim May 2020 as Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month. This proclamation encourages residents to prepare to survive wildfire by ensuring proper management of vegetation surrounding the home, and move from the expectation of being protected from wildfire to the understanding that they must be prepared to survive wildfire.
- Commissioners proclaim July 2020 as Lake Tahoe Wildfire Awareness Month. This proclamation urges residents of Lake Tahoe’s fire-prone communities need to accept responsibility for living in high fire-hazard areas, and support this year’s theme Fight Fire With a Plan as a means for education and a call for action to prepare.
- Donation to Washoe County Regional Parks & Open Space in the form of in-kind donations valued in the amount of $19,773.60 from various businesses, organizations and individuals.
- Donation to Washoe County one-time donation valued in the amount of $1,752 from the Western Nevada Supply for materials used in the Edison Housing project.
- Donation to Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in the form of one-time appreciation gift donations valued in the amount of $6,247 from private citizens.
- Donation to the Washoe County Human Services Agency from Grace Community Church of Reno in the amount of $50,000 to support clients in the Crossroads Program.
- Donation to the Washoe County Human Services Agency of various items donated valued in the amount of $1,640 and donations in the amount of $1,680 to support child welfare activities.
- Donations to the Washoe County Human Services Agency of various items donated valued in the amount $1,450 and accept donations to the Senior Services fund in the amount of $2,007.50 to support operations of the Washoe County Senior Centers.
- Chair Bob Lucey in the amount of $10,000 to support the Food Bank of Northern Nevada with a $5,000 grant, and the Children’s Cabinet Emergency Fund with a $5,000 grant.