Retreat questioned by new councilwomen

The $26,000 price tag for an upcoming Reno City Council retreat seems stiff, according to the council’s two newest members.

“I think that is ridiculous for a two-day retreat,” Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza-Hogan said. “It’s a total waste of taxpayer money.”

Local government officials dig retreats. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners spent some time reflecting on their higher goals at the Old Huffaker School at Bartley Ranch. This retreat cost about $2,315. The Sparks City Council spent $190 for a Jan. 12 retreat at the Lazy 5 Regional Park. The cost breakdown included $125 for the space and $65 for snacks.

The Reno City Council is a bit more spendy. Members voted 5-2 recently to approve a $26,000 contract for facilitation services provided by David Jones of Sentient Systems for their retreat Feb. 14-15 at Sky Tavern on Mt. Rose. Sferrazza-Hogan and Toni Harsh dissented. The contract doesn’t cover additional expenses, such as lodging and travel.

City spokesman Chris Good said Reno’s contract with Jones goes beyond facilitating two days of workshop with the members of the City Council.

"Jones will not merely run a meeting, but will help with teambuilding efforts, integrating the new council members into the group, exploring the hotly contested issues and get a work plan together to turn the council goals into a reality," Good explained.