County Manager presents 2017-18 recommended budget
Washoe County Manager John Slaughter presented the Board of Commission with a recommended balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Severe and unexpected flooding in January and February had a significant impact on the FY17-18 budget. County Manager Slaughter recommended that the first priority for the County budget is to cover disaster-related costs by addressing short-term cash flow issues, cover unreimbursed costs and replenish the Stabilization Account. The second priority is to cover unknown costs as well as potential long-term impacts. The third recommended priority is to fund critical above-base enhancements to departments’ budgets.
Federal reimbursement funding from FEMA is expected to help offload costs, although the exact amount has not been determined. The County will be responsible for paying more than $8 million in advance of the anticipated FEMA reimbursement. FEMA reimbursement could be up to 75 percent of the costs however there is no clear timeline for the potential funding.
The County has made it a priority to prepare for emergency costs and will be drawing upon several funding areas including: FY2017 Contingency Account, FY18 Base Contingency Account, Stabilization Account and the CIP (Capital Improvement Funds) Account; these funding sources total $8.4 million.
Washoe County Manager John Slaughter said, “It is important to note that the County has adjusted the budget and identified areas to draw upon to propose a balanced FY2017-18 budget to the Board of County Commissioners. We have taken a very prudent and conservative approach.”
The recommended budget includes critical above-base enhancements to County departments, including 14 new full-time employees (FTE’s) and program enhancements at a cost of more than $3 million, which are paid from increased revenues or reprioritized from existing budgets. The new positions will go into the following programs or departments:
• Alternative Sentencing
• Sheriff’s Office
• Juvenile Services
• Animal Services
• Medical Examiner
• Recorder’s Office
• Human Resources
• Community Services
• District Court
• Incline Justice Court
• Health District
Special Topic: Parks Budget
From 2007 to 2013 the County’s Regional Parks and Open Space budget was almost cut by half. From 2013 to 2017, the combined budget for Parks Operations and Infrastructure has been increased, now totaling more than $5 million. Parks is now looking to make some much needed capital project improvements in FY2017 and F2018, which combined will total over $16 million. These projects will provide needed improvements to 27 County Parks and Open Space areas for the community to enjoy.
The next steps for approval of the FY17-18 County Budget will be during the May 23 Board of County Commissioners Meeting. During this time, upon the hearing of public comment and pending the approval by the Board of County Commissioners, the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2017-18 Final Budget will occur.
“This is a highly relevant issue for Washoe County because casinos and bars are important establishments in the community,” says UNR’s Eric Crosbie.