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County sets objectives in strategic planning session



washoe-150x150-5841553-9058112Washoe County commissioners, elected officials and department heads worked together to establish key objectives for the upcoming year and beyond during the county’s annual strategic planning retreat earlier this week. In addition to reviewing the past five years of the county’s budget history, the daylong session included an economic review of the region from Brian Bonnenfant, from the University of Nevada, Reno Center for Regional Studies, and a review of key trends and challenges the county government faces in delivering the public services needed to support a high quality of life in the region.

Washoe County Manager Katy Simon says status quo is a welcomed update to report during this recovery mode, “Flat is the new up when it comes to the budget process in county government. Our organization is still recovering from the deep cuts that we have sustained over the past five years, so the fact that we do not have to look at cutbacks this year is a relief for all of us in meeting our service mission and mandates.”

Simon pointed out that Washoe County has lost 700 positions during the recession and is now funded at roughly 2005 levels. “In the meantime, demand for  county services continues to increase as Washoe County’s population grew by about 7 percent in that same period. As a result, Washoe County has fewer than six employees per 1,000 residents, compared to 10 employees per 1,000 residents in jurisdictions serving similar sized populations. Washoe County employees have taken pride in continuing to provide the services our residents need, such as child protection, aid to needy families, home-delivered meals for seniors at risk, services to youth, elections, law enforcement and all the other critical functions folks rely on us for.”

Commissioners established five objectives for the 2013-2015 Strategic Plan:

  • Sustainabililty, including financial sustainability, sustaining our services and infrastructure, and sustainability of our natural resources
  • Regional economic development and diversification
  • County workforce development, including employee retention, training and succession planning
  • Safe, secure and healthy communities
  • Public participation and transparent communication

Washoe County Commissioner and Vice-Chair Bonnie Weber said the strategic planning session was extremely helpful to commissioners and staff alike, “We have been doing strategic planning as an organization for decades, but every year we walk away with something new. The fundamental force behind our planning is driven by the economy and it’s our job to take that information and make it work for the citizens of Washoe County. I am really excited that our two new commissioners participated and gave us some great input.”

The results of the planning session will be compiled and then presented to the Board of County Commissioners for action and adoption during the Feb. 26 meeting in the County Chambers. For a look at upcoming agenda items and a schedule of those meetings visit www.washoecounty.us/bcc/agendas.html.


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