The Washoe Board of County Commissioners complained at a recent meeting about its lack of representation on the planning agency’s board. The regional planning governing board has 10 members — four from the city of Reno, three from Sparks and three appointed by the county.
But a bill draft request by the county to the Nevada Legislature, approved by commissioners, would change the composition of the Truckee Meadows planning board.
Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler wants to see more oversight of the organization.
“At the very least, I believe we need to restructure the structure of the board [to have the] same number of representatives from all three entities,” she said. “One entity should not have more clout and more decision than another entity.”
The commissioners moved to proceed with the legislation at their Jan. 10, 2017 meeting. But the governing board called the county’s bill draft an illegal and unilateral move. Its lawsuit said that if the bill draft request “is not withdrawn before the commencement of the 2017 Legislature, (the county) will continue to suffer significant damages, and those damages will be irreparable….”
Berkbigler, however, previously accused TMRPA of operating unilaterally and wasting taxpayer dollars.
“This board basically spends taxpayer dollars really independently of any oversight outside of themselves, shall we say,” she said. “That’s … $600,000 a year. That money could be better placed hiring staff to go clean ditches than duplicating work being done by other entities that we have.”
Sparks City Councilwoman and Chair of the TMRPA board, Charlene Bybee, said that the county’s bill draft is not the proper way to make changes to the board.
“The intent of AB 39 was to take control of the regional planning governing board and land-use planning in the Truckee Meadows,” she said. “Basically Washoe County did not follow the legal process required for legislative changes related to regional planning.
“I wish we could have brought it before the board to see if there’s things that we could’ve worked out together, and had that cooperation, and we haven’t,” she added. “Unfortunately this is where we stand now.”
Reno City Councilman David Bobzien, who also serves on the TMRPA board, said it is likely that the City of Reno will join in the lawsuit. Bybee said that Sparks staff are also looking into joining the lawsuit.
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Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.