City Council Debates $100k Membership to EDAWN as Part of Annual Budget

The Reno City Council today passed its 2017-18 budget of nearly $200 million.

A chief point of contention was how much of that money should go to the city’s membership to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN).

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.

At a price tag of $100,000, the amount was considered excessive by some council members who would have rather seen some of that money to go the Trauma Intervention Programs (TIP) of Northern Nevada, which provides services to those affected by tragedy.

Mayor Hillary Schieve repeatedly defended the EDAWN membership. She said that the organization does a lot of legwork bringing new businesses and jobs to Northern Nevada.

But Councilman Paul McKenzie has been highly critical of EDAWN. He called their work an affront to the city, because it brings what he called jobs with “substandard” wages to the area, contributing to area’s lack of affordable housing.

“Thirty percent of a person’s income is supposed to match what the monthly rent is, which means they would have to make $35 an hour,” he said. “The average job that EDAWN brings to the community is $16 an hour, which makes them working poor.

“They’re poverty jobs, then (EDAWN CEO Mike Kazmierski’s) got the nerve to bitch about housing that we’re not bringing to the community. He hammered on local governments for not providing housing, but he continues to bring low-income jobs to the area,” McKenzie added.

Council members Brekhus and Delgado also thought the $100,000 fee was excessive, and in a vote just on the EDAWN membership amount joined McKenzie with dissenting votes. At the end, the budget passed with the EDAWN membership included.

McKenzie was the only council member who voted against the overall budget, citing the $100,000 EDAWN membership.

City Manager Sabra Newby.
City Manager Sabra Newby.

Council members committed to devote some of their discretionary spending to TIP’s programs.

Budget highlights, according to the city, include:

  • $200,000 toward upgrades of the Jack Tighe Memorial Park parking lot from room tax funds,
  • Addition of building inspector for the motel inspection program from the building fund, and
  • Creation of attrition funds of $420,000 in the Reno Police Department to allow for maintaining the authorized full-time level of 323 sworn officers.

“We have established a fiscally responsible budget that meets the goals set by council, ReImagine Reno, citizens, and the city’s strategic plan,” City Manager Sabra Newby said. “I am excited to move forward on the implementation phase and continue to work closely with council on these important initiatives.”

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About Bob Conrad 815 Articles
Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.