Following a staff presentation on the Downtown Reno Business Improvement District (BID), council members on Wednesday approved 10 hardship requests totaling $3,500 in assessments. They also adopted a resolution and approved an introduced ordinance, both relating to the levy and collection of assessments for the district.
The operating budget for Downtown Reno Ambassadors comes directly from the assessment, as well as marketing and maintenance services.
Council member Jenny Brekhus said assessments should never be used for marketing or any services outside of policing and maintenance, which is what she says the assessment was first created for.
“It was never gonna be that marketing was going to be paid for out of these assessments,” Brekhus said. “It was always – and it’s in the Downtown Plan – the funds to policing and the funds to maintenance. So as far as I’m concerned, seeing and hearing there’s a budget that goes beyond these two buckets is a no go.”
Brekhus also asked if any of the funds were going to the Reno Police Department for increased patrols.
Bryan McArdle, the city’s revitalization manager, said he believed so, but said he did not have the budget in front of him to provide precise numbers to Brekhus. He also could not say how much of the assessment was going to marketing.
“I don’t have the budget in front of me because we are just discussing the assessment today,” McArdle said. “The budget and rates have already been approved and which inform the levy of the assessment.”
Brekhus said the fact that any of the funds were going toward marketing means that something has gone “awry” in the BID.
“It’s problematic,” Brekhus said.
Council voted to approve with Brekhus against.
Bernice Mathews Elementary School students visit City Hall
Prior to the meeting’s start, several students from the Bernice Mathews Elementary School gave public comment, discussing what they would like to see in their community.
The students requested an increase of safe, clean bike trails, more water parks to encourage the community to go outside, an increase of cultural activities at the community center, access to community soccer and clean parks.
However, one thing almost all students continued to ask for was an increase in safety: they said there are “a lot of code yellows” – a term used denoting a security risk outside a school that causes medium level lockdowns within the school.
Safety in parks and a lack of security were also mentioned, as was increased safety on the roads. Many students complained about speeding cars and the amount of trash in Reno parks.
The council did not respond to student requests, but they did pose for a photo with the students and treats were offered by the Reno Fire Department after public comments were completed.
Council denies appeal of storage facility neighbor
Council members voted to deny an appeal against the Planning Commission’s decision to approve a conditional use permit to construct a storage facility.
The storage company, Green Acres Storage, was approved in February for a conditional permit by the Planning Commision to create a 310-unit mini-warehouse for the purpose of RV storage on its 1.85-acre property.
A neighbor of the property appealed the decision, stating that the creation of the facility would landlock their property, jeopardize their water well and cause a backup of the floodplain.
The appellant also said there was an ongoing dispute regarding the property lines of the parcel.
Council denied the neighbor’s appeal, upholding the Planning Commission’s decision to allow for a conditional use permit.
Council members approved the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Program of Projects within the city of Reno which include seven major projects. These include:
- Buck Drive Circulation at $4 million to be completed in 2025
- Geiger Grade Realignment (Virginia Street to Toll Road) at $20 million to be completed in 2026 pending federal funding
- McCarran Boulevard Safety and Operational Improvements (Plumb Lane to South Virginia Street and El Rancho Drive to Rock Boulevard) at $15 million to be completed in 2025
- Military Road Capacity (Lemmon Drive to Echo Avenue) at $30 million to be completed in 2025
- North Valleys North Virginia Street Capacity (Panther Drive to Stead Boulevard) at $50 million to be completed in 2026
- Virginia Street Bus Rapid Transit South (Peckham Lane to Gentry Way) – amount not listed
- Downtown Micromobility Network – amount not listed
In the last project, the Downtown Micromobility Network, staff was directed to bring back an amendment to include additional streets in the plan to align with the Gehl Placemaking Study and the Micromobility Pilot Study.
In other items
Council members appointed Teresa Di Loreto (reappointment), Andy Durling, Shirley Folkins-Roberts and Brian Moon to the Building Enterprise Fund Advisory Committee.
Council approved the allocation of $40,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for Solar School Zone flashing beacon systems within Ward 3. These funds will be used to purchase and install solar flashing beacons at Veterans Memorial Elementary School and Rita Cannan Elementary School.
Council approved a contract with Spanish Springs Construction for $950,925 as part of the Reno Tennis Center Rehabilitation Project. The project will provide improvements to courts 13-16, which are in poor condition and need to be replaced.
A contract was approved with MGT of America Consulting for the development of the City of Reno Equity Plan for $142,276. A public request for proposals was opened and 12 proposals were received.