Washoe County today clarified the 2002 Ballot Ballot Question and 2003 Interlocal Agreement for Regional Animal Services between Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County. The voter approved ballot question called for an increase in the tax rate of up to 3 cents for animal welfare services, noting that the tax increase would be offset by Reno and Sparks each lowering their tax rate by 2 cents. The ballot question further clarified that nothing in the question would prevent the local governments from raising taxes for other purposes. The City of Sparks lowered its tax rate, but the City of Reno did not, and Reno continued to retain the tax rate for the eight years since then.
As a result of the ballot language, nothing that the City of Reno did in declining to lower its tax rate is illegal, nor is it illegal for the County to impose a tax rate for Animal Services that is less than 3 cents. The County is proposing to use a portion of the accumulated reserves that are restricted in the Animal Services Fund for Animal Services operations for one year and lower the taxes that are collected for Animal Services for that year. The County is also proposing to apply a portion of their available tax rate for other critical needs that are underfunded, such as Senior Services and Child Protective Services, which also had voter-approved overrides but those are insufficient to adequately fund the services. Those services have been subsidized by the General Fund for more than a decade. These changes are proposed to be considered in May of 2012, for the 2012-2013 budget year. The proposed tax rate change will have no effect on the budget for Animal Services for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
“We are extremely proud of the work of our Regional Animal Services team,” said County Commission Vice Chairman Bonnie Weber. “They have one of the best animal save rates in the country at 94%, compared to 58% for the most recently reported national average. The proposal that the Commission will consider would not adversely affect their budget or their operations.”
For more information, please download the animal services budget frequently asked questions online at http://www.washoecounty.us/repository/files/2/ASFAQBudget2011.pdf