Below are highlights of some of the actions taken by the Board of County Commissioners at its August 23 meeting:
September is Hunger Action Month. The County Commission issued a proclamation recognizing September, 2011, as National Hunger Month in partnership with the Nevada Food Bank. Hunger Action Month is committed to educating citizens about the role and importance of food banks in addressing hunger, and to raise awareness for hunger issues. More information about the Nevada Food Bank and Hunger action month can be found at: www.fbnn.org .
National Technology Award. The County Commission recognized the hard work of County technology staff in being awarded top honors by the Center for Digital Government’s Digital Counties Survey. Washoe County was awarded first place in the U.S. for medium county populations for ongoing efforts to use technology to improve transparency and interaction with Washoe County citizens.
New Incline Justice Court Hours. In order to meet required labor concessions, the Incline Village Justice Court has reduced its hours of operation, effective August 15, 2011. The new court hours are: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9am to 4pm, and Tuesday from 8am to 4pm. The reduced hours will continue through June 30, 2012.
Employee Wage Concessions. Employees from the Washoe County Employee Association (WCEA), Public Attorneys, District Attorney Investigators, Nurses, the Wadsworth Justice Court, and elected officials have agreed to continue their fiscal year 2010/2011 wage concessions pending completion of fiscal year 2011/2012 labor negotiations with employee bargaining units:
WCEA- 3.44% wage reduction for non-supervisory employees, 3.34% for supervisory / administrative employees
Public Attorneys- Health benefit cost share of $162.36 per pay period
DA Investigators- Health benefit cost share of $139.41 per pay period for non-supervisory employees, $169.48 for supervisory employees
Nurses- Health benefit cost share of $81.81 per pay period for non-supervisory employees, $109.36 for supervisory employees
Wadsworth Justice Court- 3.2% wage reduction for non-elected employees, health benefit cost share of $120.00 per pay period for the elected Justice of the Peace
Elected Officials- voluntary 5% contribution of annual base pay, plus health benefit cost share of $50 per pay period
Most groups agreed to extend concessions until labor negotiations for the current fiscal year were completed.
The concessions agreed to in this action exceed $2.8 million in savings. Commissioners thanked the employee groups and elected officials for their contributions.
Ballardini Trailhead. The County Commission has accepted a grant from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act Program, not to exceed $1,116,200, for construction of a trailhead and trail project in the Ballardini Ranch area. The grant, which requires no match, will be supplemented as necessary by the Washoe County 2000 Regional Parks and Open Space and Trails bond (WC-1).
The project includes paved access, parking, fencing, an interpretive area with a tribute to the Ballardini family, picnic tables, equestrian area, and over two miles of trails on land now owned by the citizens of Washoe County.
Community Assistance Center. Significant changes in homeless service policy by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prompted the Commission to reject all bids for operation of the Community Assistance Center and to create a Transitional Governing Board (TGB) to more effectively handle the new proposal creation and selection of an operator for the Community Assistance Center.
The HUD policy will shift focus to a “housing first” model, designed to reduce the length of time individuals and families remain homeless and reduce recidivism of homelessness. While the new guidelines are not yet in effect, failure to comply with the regulations could result in the loss of HUD funding- currently between $4 million and $5 million per year.
The TGB, which will consist of one representative and one alternate from Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, will oversee operator selection and contract compliance. The Commission appointed Commissioner Kitty Jung to serve as the County’s representative to the TGB, and Commissioner Bonnie Weber as alternate.
The Commission also approved an amended agreement, continuing operation by Volunteers of America until the new request for proposal process is completed.
Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) Bonds. The County Commission approved an ordinance allowing for the refinancing of general obligation bonds held by the RSCVA. The refinancing of the debt will allow the RSCVA to take advantage of lower interest rates and result in cost savings over time.
While the terms of the refinanced debt would extend the debt term by three years, the County authorized the creation of a “sinking fund” which will dedicate a portion of any growth in room tax that would be used to pay off the debt earlier.
These bonds were originally issued by the County on behalf of the RSCVA in 1999, as state statute did not authorize the RSCVA to own property except under the technical title of the County. Additionally, the County’s issuance of the bond allowed RSCVA to take advantage of more favorable interest rates. The RSCVA was required to establish a reserve fund to protect the County should the RSCVA be unable to make payments.
Washoe County Redistricting Project. Commissioners reviewed potential redistricting maps and gave direction to staff during their meeting. Commission districts are being adjusted based on the 2010 Census to provide each district with a similar population size.
Citizens will have an opportunity to review the redistricting proposals at an open house on Wednesday, September 7 at the Washoe County Complex. Presentations on redistricting will be made at 5:30pm and 7:30pm.