The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:
1. Commissioners conducted the annual review of Manager Eric Brown: Manager Eric Brown took the helm of Washoe County in November 2019after an extensive national search. He has directed the county’s efforts around COVID-19, the Primary and General elections, services for the county’s homeless and vulnerable populations, and myriad other issues and projects. The Board discussed the results of the 2020 Performance Feedback Survey, a survey of 34 participants (28 respondents) representing elected and appointed officials from within the county and across the region. The Board also discussed Manager Brown’s priorities and goals for the past year.
“It’s an understatement to say the last year has been one of unprecedent innovation and the need to galvanize the organization and organize with regional partners in order to move forward,” Brown said. “I think the year ahead will be one of stabilization, with a vaccine ahead.”
Manager Brown discussed the launch of the Built for Zero program to address homelessness in the region.
“This will continue to be an area of focus. We know the homeless population may grow as we move through the pandemic and people face evictions and being unable to make mortgage payments,” he said.
Commissioners discussed the results of the survey and their personal experience and insight in working with Brown.
“I think one of the best things we’ve done as commissioners here is to hire you, Manager Brown. You're someone who always has a wonderful attitude, always willing to help, and the time you’ve given to my constituents,” Commissioner Jeanne Herman said. “We have watched you this year and if it were me, I would have hidden or left town. I cannot imagine being successful in any of the things that have attacked us this year. And in my book, you’ve passed every test with flying colors.”
Chair Bob Lucey added: “You and I have spent the last 12 months together – face to face on several occasions. Out of the 28 respondents we saw an overwhelming response that said you exceeded expectations. I was one of your harshest critics based on the lack of municipal experience. Much like myself when I was elected eight years ago, I had limited municipal and government experience and it provided a unique perspective, which has served you well.”
He continued: “You have brought a calm demeanor. A manager that brings forth the guiding principles that take an organization from good to great. You are tirelessly putting in a 24 hours a day. Your dedication to this organization is tremendous. Day after day I am told how wonderful it is to work with you. From this Commissioner, you provide a sense of calm to me. When I feel lost without a path forward, you have given me confidence. I thank you for the last 12 months of service with us – you are someone to be honored and I would like to thank you for that service.”
Upon unanimous endorsement of Manager Brown’s leadership, the Board voted to extend his contract through November 25, 2023, increase his base salary by 10 percent to bring him into parity with other regional managers, and provide a one-time lump-sum bonus of 5 percent.
2. Washoe County Health District amended its budget to support the cost of COVID-19 vaccinations: In anticipation of forthcoming vaccines for COVID-19, the Health District received a grant to cover the cost of personnel and mass vaccination events necessary to distribute the vaccines. The Board approved a budget amendment of nearly $66,000, which includes revenue from the grant and expenses on the part of the Health District. Washoe County will receive 3,655 doses of vaccine in the first shipment, slated for December 15, 2020. These doses are allocated to the four acute care hospitals in Washoe County; Renown Regional Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Northern Nevada Regional Medical Center and Incline Village Community Hospital.
3. Commissioners approved a grant to construct a new connector trail in Reno:The Recreational Trails Program awarded Washoe County a $40,000 grant with a $10,000 match from the county to add a new non-motorized, multi-use trail in Reno. The new 3.5-mile connector trail will link the Ballardini Ranch Trailhead to the Thomas Creek Trailhead and further the plans to eventually link all the northern and southern trail systems together along the Sierra Front.
4. Commissioners appointed Rob Pierce to the Washoe County Board of Adjustment: County Commissioner Jeanne Herman recommended Rob Pierce to serve on the Board of Adjustment representing District 5, which generally includes the areas of Verdi, North Valleys, Cold Springs, Warm Springs, portions of Sun Valley, and all of the High Desert Planning Area extending north to the Oregon border. The Board of Adjustment hears and decides appeals concerning zoning regulations, permits and variances, and other code-related duties. The Board of County Commissioners approved the appointment, and Pierce’s term will begin Jan. 1, 2021, and end June 30, 2024.