The Reno City Council on Wednesday approved an $862 million budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. As part of the budget, 28 new positions were created including 10 positions for the Reno Police Department, three paramedic positions and an additional park ranger.
“I’m very pleased with the creativity that’s being focused on figuring out how to get to the council objectives which is to achieve safety,” Council member Naomi Duerr said. “I didn’t know it was only for downtown. I thought it was for patrol generally.”
Chief of Police Kathryn Nance said the downtown area is not being served adequately and there are better policing models they can follow.
“[We’re asking about] redeployment in the downtown, and are we doing it effectively?” Nance said. “I argue we are not, there are better mechanisms out there, there are better policing models that we can look at to say ‘how does this work, what do we need to do’ and that’s what we’re working on currently.”
Mayor Hillary Schieve said that at some point in the future she would like to see a single revenue source for the Truckee River, and not having one is a missed opportunity.
“I don’t know why it’s so difficult for everyone to understand that we should all be taking care of the river together,” she said. “I’m incredibly frustrated because I feel it is such a valuable gem that most cities don’t have. And yet we’re not doing the things we need to be doing to sustain it.”
Duerr said that previously, River Rangers existed within the city who specifically patrolled the river and dealt with trash mitigation and issues with people along the river corridor.
The largest portion of funding is going toward the general fund at $320 million, with the second largest at $227 million dedicated to the sewer fund.
Of the funding, $180 million will fund public safety services such as police, fire and dispatch, $271 million to public works, and $101 million to general government which includes the city council, city manager’s office, city clerk and human resources, among other departments.
Another $16 million will be dedicated to parks and recreation, $33 million to community support services, and $10 million to the municipal court operations.
According to Vicki Van Buren, the city’s director of finance, the huge increase of PERS benefits – public employee retirement benefits – the city must cover took away some extra funding that could have gone to other departments.
In total, PERS increases were approved from 29.75% to 33.5% for regular members and from 44% to 50% for police and fire members.
“A lot of the reasons we don’t have funding this year is because of the PERS increase. It was so large it took away any opportunity to add like we have in previous years,” she said. “We won’t have that PERS increase next year though since it’s an every-other-year [increase].”
Council member Jenny Brekhus voted against the budget.
“This is the first time in 11 years I’ve voted against the budget,” Brekhus said. “I don’t think this is a budget for the economic times we are projecting. This is the time for the discomfort of disciplined budgeting.”
The full budget breakdown presentation can be viewed here.
Spectating at sideshows now a criminal offense
In its second reading, council approved an amendment to existing ordinances that deems attending a “sideshow,” a term used for impromptu car demonstrations, and/or street racing event a misdemeanor.
See our previous reporting on this ordinance here.
Reno City Council members along with Chief Nance have spoken out against sideshows a number of times, citing property damage and traffic issues.
Nance has also implied that the sideshows are created by and attended by people who do not live in the region.
For decades, sideshow participation was criminal, but in 2021, the legislature passed a law to decriminalize traffic violations, and sideshows were lumped in.
This ordinance amendment, according to Nance, returns it to a criminal offense.
The vote to adopt passed with Brekhus voting against. The City of Sparks has approved a similar ordinance, and Washoe’s Board of County Commissioners recently approved a similar measure.
Idlewild pond rehab and sewer contracts approved
Two sewer contracts totalling more than $3.9 million were approved as part of the Parr Sewer Rehabilitation Project. The bulk of the funds were awarded to Q&D Construction, with $325,324 was awarded to DOWL for construction administration services on the project.
In 2020, a city lift station report determined the project was of high priority. The current lift station will be abandoned, and 2,600 linear feet of sanitary sewer main will be installed.
A consultant agreement with J-U-B Engineering, Inc. was also approved for design services for the Idlewild Pond Rehabilitation Project.
Council in March approved $1.6 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the project which will address the southern pond walls and bottom within the park.
City engineer Jonathan Smith said the pond has been “exhibiting undesirable infiltration through the pond bottom and walls.”
The project includes the relining of the southern pond and addresses the infiltration through the pond walls.
City Hall remodel approved
Council approved an agreement with Due Group for $263,620 to provide architectural consulting services for the City Hall Remodel Project.
The contract covers development of construction documents, specification and bid documents, and probably construction costs to remodel floors 10, 11, 14 and 16.
The remodel will include asbestos abatement, demolition of flooring, ceiling and walls, and new construction including flooring, carpentry, plumbing, HVAC and electrical.
The building was built in 1963, and the HVAC system will need an overhaul to become modernized by separating the single zone system into two zones to enable heating and cooling to both sides of the building simultaneously.
According to Frank Avera, a maintenance and operations manager for the city, many of the finishes have been in place since 2003 and are past their useful life. In addition, restrooms on those floors are not up to current ADA standards.
Grants, donations given
Council accepted $11,500 in grants for various accessible recreation programs.
The Shaw-Kennedy Community Foundation of Western Nevada provided a grant of $4,000 to the City of Reno to purchase pool equipment to aid persons with disabilities.
Council approved the donation of $5,000 in Reno Access Advisory Committee funds to the High Fives Foundation for expenses associated with making accessibility modifications and improvements to the Sierra Vista Park.
A $1,000 sponsorship from the Nevada Kids Foundation was accepted to provide scholarships for children at the new City of Reno Adaptive Cycling Center.
A 2023 League of American Bicyclists’ Community Spark Grant award for $1,500 was accepted for the Adaptive Cycling Center, and bike donations including a Hase Pino Custom Handcycle and Duet Electro Plus were accepted for the center as well.