Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

Reno, NV, USA, January 12, 2021

Commissioners reelect Bob Lucey as Chair and Vaughn Hartung as Vice Chair

The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:    

1. Commissioners elected the chair and vice chair for the next term: In their first order of business, Commissioners reelected current chair Bob Lucey to remain as chair, and Commissioner Vaughn Hartung to serve as vice chair. Their terms were fixed at one year each and were unanimously approved. 

Hartung moved to reelect Chair Lucey, saying: “You’ve spent the last year dealing with numerous issues, you’ve done a good job, a superb job, I would nominate you to continue as chair for another year.” 

County Commissioners also serve on nearly three dozen boards and commissions ranging from public health to business development to transportation and tourism. Commissioners discussed the terms and duties of these boards and determined how to fulfill the commitments to the public boards.  

2. Manager Brown gave an update on COVID and vaccinations: Washoe County receives its allocation of vaccines with as little as a few days’ notice of how many doses it will receive, so the Health District faces a challenge in notifying eligible recipients and creating a set schedule for distribution. County Manager Eric Brown told Commissioners and the public that the best way for residents to stay informed is to go to www.COVID19Washoe.com and subscribe to email updates.  

3. Commissioners heard an update on Our Place Community Garden: Dee Schafer-Whitten, co-founder of Soulful Seeds, presented an overview on the community garden at Our Place. Soulful Seeds is a nonprofit organization that is committed to sustainable food and support for vulnerable populations in our community. Among other services, its Community Garden pillar maximizes the amount of fresh food delivered locally. Much of the work is being done pro-bono, and is the culmination of numerous community partnerships.  The project will cost around $470,000 and the first phase will begin this spring and include permits, fencing, grading, and planter beds.  

“Thank you for what you do. Your dedication to this community and what you’ve done with Soulful Seeds is tremendous,” Lucey said. “I’m excited to see the potential of the community garden at Our Place.” 

Commissioner Alexis Hill echoed Lucey’s comments: “It’s so admirable, the passion you have for what you’re doing. More of this community should really get involved in this. Planting a garden is so rewarding, and everyone should have access to fresh food.” 

4. Board approved amended budget for the operation of Our Place shelters: County Commissioners approved an amendment to the contract between the Human Services Agency (HSA) and Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality (RISE) to operate the women and family shelters at the Our Place campus. The amendment increases the RISE contract by $150,000 for additional staff. The amendment also includes a $300,000 increase to support additional RISE staff in building 8B. Staff will ensure the oversight, safety, and wellbeing of residents placed into this building. 

Washoe County decided more housing was needed as well to accommodate the waitlist of clients and families. Building 8B at the Our Place Campus was identified as the most viable option to support this expansion and will allow for an additional 10 families (up to 60 people in total) to receive shelter and services. To learn more about Our Place, click here.  

“The Washoe County Commission applauds the partnership with the State of Nevada Divisions of State Lands and Department of Health and Human Services,” Lucey said. “Through an innovative model to serve women and families facing homelessness the Our Place campus will be a national model of success and is a tremendous asset to our Washoe County community. Thank you to all of the folks at RISE and their help in running our campus and helping us stand up Our Place as well.”  

5. County’s FY20 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report reviewed and approved: The Washoe County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) must be presented to the commission annually and approved. Prior to approval, it is audited by a certified public accountant and the findings are also presented to the Commission. Washoe County strives for financial excellence, and the level of detail included in the CAFR provide insight on the county’s major initiatives and long-term financial planning. The CAFR presented and approved was for the 2020 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2020.  

In approving the CAFR, the Board also approved the re-appropriation of nearly $25 million for the FY21 budget, $5 million of which is for purchase orders committed in FY20 and just under $20 million for spending of restricted contributions and fees. The approved CAFR will be posted on the comptroller’s page of the county website for public access.  

6. Board approved a grant to fund new investigator positions with the District Attorney’s office: The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office has received a $50,000 grant to fund two new positions that will  assist in investigations of sexual assault and human trafficking. The D.A. has recently experienced a decline in such investigations due to staff shortages. The grant from the State of Nevada, Department of Public Safety was unanimously approved by the Board of County Commissioners. 

7. Behzad Zamanian named Washoe County Chief Information Officer: The Board approved the appointment of Behzad Zamanian as Chief Information Officer with Technology Services, a critical position overseeing the digital security and technology infrastructure of Washoe County. Zamanian will relocate to Washoe County from Southern California where he most recently worked as chief information officer at the City of Huntington Beach. He boasts more than 25 years in the information technology field, and earned a Certified Chief Information Officer credential from Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from California Polytechnical University, Pomona, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine.  

8. Board appointed Dennis George to Board of Equalization: The Washoe County Board of Equalization is a five-member board that hears appeals on property tax and ensures the implementation of tax regulations, assessments, and collections. Members serve four-year years, and may be appointed to two terms. The Commission approved the appointment of Dennis George, who has been a resident of Washoe County for more than 40 years.  

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