Washoe County Commissioners approved a $311 million general fund budget today for the 2011-12 fiscal year that is about 21% less than the county’s 2007-08 budget and reduces costs enough to close the $31.3 million deficit projected for the coming year. However, the approved budget does not reflect any impact the 2011 Legislative Session may have on the county. If the Governor’s proposed budget is approved by the Legislature, it would have an estimated $24 million impact upon the just-approved budget, requiring further cuts which would most likely include additional layoffs given the magnitude of budget reductions over the past several years. By state statute, the County has 30 days after the close of the regular and any Special Legislative Sessions to file an amended budget to reflect any Legislative impacts.
With this latest budget, Washoe County has reduced its budgets since 2007 by $154 million and a total of 769 positions have been eliminated. Spending levels are now at 2005 levels, with staffing at 2004 or earlier levels. Employees have foregone cost-of-living raises since 2007 and have given back voluntary wage and benefit concessions that totaled more than $9 million during 2010-11, with an additional $11.6 million in wage and benefit cuts for the coming fiscal year if current negotiations are successful.
In approving the county’s general fund budget, Commissioner Kitty Jung was the only dissenting vote, citing “philosophical opposition” to a budget that does not include library services as a core county service. In making her statement, she also acknowledged the hard work of county staff, particularly the budget division, in preparing the challenging 2011-12 budget.
Sitting as the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) Board of Fire Commissioners, County Commissioners postponed the approval of TMFPD’s 2011-12 budget until the Reno Fire Department’s (RFD) budget is approved which is scheduled for a public hearing before the Reno City Council tomorrow. Since the TMFPD’s budget includes a payment to the RFD based on a formula of their budget, it was recommended that the Commissioners postpone their action until the Reno City Council has had an opportunity to vote on the RFD budget. The County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the TMFPD budget at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 24th. The Commission also approved 2011-12 budgets for the Sierra Fire Protection District and the South Truckee Meadows General Improvement District sitting as their respective governing boards.