County Commissioners Direct Staff to Develop Budget Contingency Plans; Receive Update on Shared Services Efforts; Approve Proclamations

At today’s regularly scheduled meeting, Washoe County Commissioners directed staff to pursue the recommended contingency plans of developing two budgets for 2011-12:

1. A budget that would fund services at 90% (assumes an overall 10% reduction of current levels) to sustainably meet a $33.5 million budget deficit in 2011-12.
2. A budget that would fund services at 75% (assumes an overall 25% reduction of current levels) to meet a $58.5 million budget deficit in 2011-12.

The second budget scenario would address the estimated $25 million impact the Governor’s proposed state budget would have upon the County in 2011-12 alone. Specifically, the Governor’s proposed budget would retain the 9 cents of property tax revenue that both Clark and Washoe Counties received but was redirected to the State coffers by the 2009 Nevada Legislature. Current legislation sets the diversion to sunset June 30, 2011. Additionally, the Governor has also proposed transferring some current State-provided services to the counties without funding resources and/or billing the counties for those services if retained by the State. Washoe County continues to adamantly oppose the continuance of the State’s redirection of local property tax revenues to fund state operations, and further believes that it would be irresponsible not to develop plans for worst case scenarios.

In approving the plan, Commissioners noted that planning for both levels of funding cuts would be required of all county departments, and the public needs to be aware of the severity of the potential impacts.

Shared Services Update. Commissioners also received a brief update on the efforts to address sharing of services between Washoe County and the City of Reno. Assistant County Manager Dave Childs noted that a technical committee comprised of staff from both entities will be working as directed by the Washoe County Commission and the Reno City Council to address the implications of the recently approved advisory question WC-2 which asked voters if consolidation should be pursued if it saved money or resulted in better services. Specifically, staff will look at impacts of a potential consolidation upon existing debt, property tax rates and collective bargaining agreements. Childs also noted that the committee continues to look at the feasibility of implementing recommendations from the consultant’s study that identified opportunities in the areas of Purchasing, Technology Services and Human Resources. In addition, sharing building inspection and permitting processes for Washoe County and Reno are being explored, as well as a regional business licensing process involving the county and both cities.

Proclamations Issued. The County Commission also issued two proclamations:

1. Proclaimed March 2011 as Women’s History Month and Tuesday, March 8, 2011 as International Women’s Day.
2. Proclaimed that 2011 be observed as the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and recognized the Washoe County citizens present who had served in the Peace Corps.