Reno wants its money back!
In a recent survey of Reno residents, the most popular suggestion for what the city government could do better was street repairs. I agree. I voted with the majority on the Reno City Council for more than $13 million in street maintenance and repairs this summer. The budget we recently passed includes new money for parks maintenance and additional police officers. Residents tell us these are priorities for them.
Your city government is in good financial shape. Over the last few years, we have expanded services. New community centers, neighborhood parks and fire stations, along with more efficient service, have become symbols of your city government. Prudent fiscal policies have prepared us for any downturn in the economy. We have a small, sensible rainy day fund and appropriate fund balances to meet unforeseen expenses.
We have done all this under a great handicap, however. And now I ask your help in resolving this issue.
For more than 10 years, we have known there is a fiscal inequity between city residents and those in the unincorporated parts of Washoe County. This means that those of us who live in Reno or Sparks pay more in taxes to Washoe County than we receive in county services. When County Commissioner Pete Sferrazza was mayor of Reno, he suggested establishing a separate “Reno County” to ensure Reno residents get the services we pay for.
There will almost always be some sort of fiscal inequity. Reno fuels the economic, cultural and tourism life of Northern Nevada. But last year, Reno, Sparks and Washoe County jointly hired an independent contractor who studied the issue. This study showed that Reno residents pay about $16 million more to Washoe County than we receive in services each year.
That’s a lot of money. With $16 million, we could more than double what we spend each year on street repairs. We could build and equip five new fire stations. We could build 10 new neighborhood parks each year. We could build a minor league baseball stadium or double our recreation programs.
I know it is unreasonable to expect Washoe County to give Reno taxpayers a check for $16 million. But working together, we can help close this huge gap a little bit at a time. Over a year ago, our representatives on the Washoe County Commission said they wanted to work toward a solution to this problem. Reno residents sure want to find a solution quickly. We’ve already lost another $16 million in the year since the study was released.
As residents of Washoe County, Renoites deserve a voice at the County Commission. I urge you to contact your County Commissioners at 328-2005, and tell them you want at least some of that $16 million back. With every day that passes, Reno residents give $44,000 more to Washoe County than we receive in county services. It’s time to reduce that number.