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Commissioners approve additional funds for Cares Campus staffing

By Kristen Hackbarth

Washoe County’s Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve an additional $6.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase staffing at the Nevada Cares Campus.

In December, Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said the board was “spending money like drunken sailors” when they approved $40 million in funds for local projects, including $26 million for the Nevada Cares Campus. This month, his response to the spending was similar.

Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung
Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung

“We’re spending money here like kids in a candy store here and I want to see some results. There has to be some forward motion,” Hartung said.

The additional funds are to hire 28 new staff members at the Cares Campus including 18 case managers, five mental health counselors, supervisors and a medical billing specialist. The extra funds will be added to $1.8 million approved at the Dec. 14 commission meeting, which included funds to hire a homeless services analyst.

The cost of all 29 positions would be covered through the end of 2023.

County staff said the new Cares Campus staff would be following the Housing First model to provide “person-centered case management including motivation interviewing and the creation of individualized housing plans.”

The approval was part of a block of agenda items that also included more than $1 million for Early Head Start programs and $6.75 million for equipment and support services for Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

Other commission business

Provided by Washoe County staff and edited by This Is Reno.

County Commission names new chair and vice chair

Commissioners voted to approveHartung, representing District 4, as chair and Commissioner Alexis Hill, representing District 1, as vice chair, each for a two-year term.

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 approved their representation to the boards. 

Board advances redistricting map in first reading of proposed commission districts

Commissioners previously approved the proposed commission districts that were reconfigured after the 2020 U.S. Census. The redistricting process involved a period of public input and six versions of district maps. Redistricting will amend Chapter 5 of the Washoe County Code related to County Commission Election Districts, and must undergo public hearings. Tuesday’s hearing was a first reading of the ordinance, and it will go before the Board again for a second reading and final approval on Jan. 25.

Board approves purchase of dash and body-worn cameras for Sheriff’s Office

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office presented a bundle of services under one provider, Axon Enterprise Inc., that they said will save the county approximately $459,000 per year. The Sheriff’s Office currently has several contracts with Axon to support body-worn cameras, fleet car cameras, Tasers, and video software and support.

Board approves amendment to contract for effluent pipeline and storage in Hidden Valley

Commissioners approved an amendment to a contract with SB Engineering for close to $245,000 for additional engineering design services for a storage tank and pipeline to carry treated effluent to the Hidden Valley area. The additional funds will cover design of the pipeline from Veterans Parkway to Hidden Valley Regional Park and storage, access roadway and irrigation services. County staff said the project will expand the use of reclaimed water within the south Truckee Meadows and reduce the demands on potable water for irrigation purposes.

Human Services Agency receives $20 million grant for Child Welfare Services

Commissioners approved the receipt of a $20 million grant to the Human Services Agency from the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Title IV-E funds. The funds, which are part of a longstanding grant from the state to the county, provide federal reimbursement for a portion of the maintenance and administrative costs – including independent living programs for children, guardianship assistance, and adoptive assistance for children with special needs.

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