For Immediate Release
Reno, Nevada. March 25, 2014. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners held its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, March 25, and took action on items including: received the annual State of the County report from County Manager John Slaughter; received an update from the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) and accepted a $267,000 grant to enhance the District’s volunteer/reserve firefighter program as well as a grant to expand the Gerlach Fire Station; accepted renewed funding for a Deputy District Attorney to continue prosecutor services for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force; received an update on a regional license and permit program that may be used by the County, the City of Reno, the City of Sparks and the Washoe County Health District; held the first reading of an ordinance which would amend several County codes regarding the implementation of provisions of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act; received a presentation on the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) Noxious Weed Program; and proclaimed March 31, 2014, as Cesar Chavez Day, the month of March as American Red Cross Month, and April as both National County Government Month and as Fair Housing Month, and passed a resolution supporting services for Veterans and the Governor’s Program for the development of local veterans commissions.
State of the County: Item 16. County Manager John Slaughter reported on the State of the County and said “it’s been a year of transition of leadership and management.” He highlighted many accomplishments of the year, including: Senior Services serving more than 213,000 meals to seniors, a 93 percent increase in building permits for new single family homes over 2012, and 4.7 million visitations to Washoe County Parks. “Our stability is due to our dedicated and hard-working employees, effective and open decision making, and the support of citizens of the County who are impacted daily by the services we provide.” Slaughter said the forecast for fiscal year 2014/15 shows encouraging signs for revenue increases in sales taxes, but said the County must “hold the line” when it comes to expenditures. “We’ll also continue to focus on collaboration and really should be celebrating the work we do with the City of Reno, the City of Sparks, the Washoe County School District and other agencies for the many projects we are working on together.” Taking a look ahead, Slaughter said the County can look forward to the opening of the Child Advocacy Center, conducting the 2014 primary and general elections, the opening of the North Valleys Splash Park, the Human Services Agency integration, which will join social services with senior services, and implementing a new website.
Chairman David Humke thanked the County Manager for his work and complimented the process of providing citizens with a variety of ways to hear the report in a concise manner. To see the full report, the State of the County video and the PowerPoint presentation, go to www.washoecounty.us/soc.
Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) update: Item 18. Commissioners accepted a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant award for $267,564 to enhance the District’s volunteer/reserve firefighter program. The grant will provide personal protective equipment for staff and fund a new volunteer coordinator position.
TMFPD Chief Charles Moore introduced and swore in 13 new firefighter/paramedics who recently graduated from the Firefighter Academy held at the Regional Public Safety Training Center. “They’re the cream of the crop,” said Moore. “Our jobs are about compassion and empathy and that’s why we work well together and I’m pleased to say we are now 100 percent staffed.”
Gerlach Fire Station Expansion: Item 17.C. Commissioners accepted a Community Facilities Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for $7,550 for equipment and furniture for the Gerlach Volunteer Fire Station expansion. The Volunteer Station expansion will be attached to the back side of the existing fire station located at 395 Sunset Blvd. This addition of approximately 112 square feet will include a second bathroom with a roll-in shower, a laundry area with a heavy duty washer and dryer, and space for an office area and cots.
Renewed funding for a Deputy D.A.: Item 17.F.2. Commissioners accepted renewed funding for a Deputy District Attorney to continue prosecutor services related to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Task Force. The funding of $80,000 is from an Office of National Drug Control Policy award to Nevada HIDTA for the period April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, with remaining $20,000 position cost covered by the District Attorney General Fund budget.
Medical Marijuana Ordinance: Item 30. Commissioners introduced an ordinance amending the Washoe County Code to provide for limited exemption of certain acts from criminal prosecution and for the licensing and land use authorization required to operate medical marijuana establishments. This would include dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing laboratories, and production facilities which are registered and permitted by Nevada under NRS Chapter 453A. Commissioner Kitty Jung, District 3, said, “We are pleased to be moving forward on this issue and introducing this ordinance, which is the first step of implementation of medical marijuana establishments in Washoe County.” The introduction of the ordinance keeps the County on track with the State’s schedule to allow the establishments to open in June. The second ordinance is scheduled for April 8 at 6 p.m.
Regional license & permit program update: Item 23. Commissioners acknowledged the progress of the Regional License and Permit Executive Committee toward contracting for a program to replace existing software, the Permits Plus program. The City of Reno, the City of Sparks, the Washoe County Health District and Washoe County have been cooperatively seeking a new regional license and permit program since April 2012. The regional team released a Request for Proposal (RFP) in late 2012. After going through a formal requirements and presentation process, the regional team selected Accela in April 2013 and received approval to proceed further in October 2013. “The Technology Services team has worked very hard to bring together the regional partners to move this initiative forward,” said Laura Schmidt, Washoe County Chief Information Management Officer. “We are excited as this represents another step forward to getting a modern, internet-based shared permits and business licensing platform. It’s more than technology. It’s process change, mobility and ease of use, all in support of regional economic development.” The Committee plans to return to Commissioners with a negotiated vendor contract, an interlocal agreement between the County, Reno, Sparks and the Health District, financing details and a proposal for a regional technology fee.
Noxious Weed Program: Item 20. The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) Noxious Weed Program made a brief presentation to Commissioners on noxious weed concerns, current local efforts on noxious weed control and the state statutes that govern regulatory actions toward controlling the problem. NDA would like to explore various options to improve control and regulatory actions in the future. As the threat and severity of wildland fires has increased in the urban interface regions of Washoe County, previous wildland fire activity has resulted in a highly flammable cheatgrass and Medusahead ecosystem replacing native vegetation. “We want to maintain regular communication between the state, the County and local organizations regarding noxious weeds and work on this together,” said Jamie Greer, Noxious Weed Program Grants & Outreach Coordinator.
Proclamations & resolution: Items 11-15. Commissioners proclaimed March 31, 2014 as Cesar Chavez Day. Chavez was born March 31, 1927 in Yuma, AZ, and went on to found the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. Chavez adhered to the principles of non-violence practiced by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and M.K. Gandhi to support the end of suffering for farm workers and their families. County Commissioner Kitty Jung requested the proclamation and Ramon Chavez, nephew of Cesar Chavez and Andrew Barbano of www.cesarchaveznevada.com attended.
Commissioners also proclaimed March as American Red Cross Month to recognize and thank the Everyday Heroes who reach out to help their neighbors when they’re in need.
Vice Chair Bonnie Weber requested April be proclaimed as National County Government Month to honor the nation’s 3,069 counties, which serve more than 300 million Americans, and encouraged all county officials, employees, schools and residents to participate in county government celebration activities. “Each year since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties across the country to actively promote their own programs and services to the public they serve and remind them why Counties matter,” said Weber. “This is thanking all of you that work for Washoe County for what you do every day.”
Commissioners also proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month and recognized the work of the Silver State Fair Housing Council for their pursuit of fair housing in the community. Next month marks the 46th anniversary of the Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which provides equal opportunity for all Americans in the sale, rental and financing of housing, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
A resolution to support services for Veterans and the Governor’s Program for the development of local veteran’s commissions was adopted. “This is an honor,” said Commissioner Vaughn Hartung, District 4. “We’re here because of what they do.” It is estimated the number of veterans in the state of Nevada ranges from 243,000 to nearly 339,000. Caleb Cage, Director of Military and Veterans Policy for the Governor’s Office, thanked the Commissioners for their support of Nevada’s veterans and the resolution.