Commission to Decide Tuesday on $14 million Budget Cuts

It's belt-tightening time for Washoe County Commissioners.

A drop in sales taxes means budget cuts to the tune of $14 million or 5 percent. The reductions will come before commissioners on Tuesday.

Budget Manager Melanie Purcell said the county is freezing about 120 full and part-time positions now vacant of 3.180 authorized positions.

"It means when you go to the library or call public works, there will probably be less people to answer questions," Purcell said. "It may take us a little longer."

Other local governments are keeping a close eye on personnel costs because of slowed revenues.

As of late October, the city of Reno had 348 vacant positions of 1,866 authorized.

In Washoe County, public safety and courts largely have been spared, causing larger cuts in other departments.

County social services would be cut by 11 percent.

Much of that will come from using more federal grant dollars to pay the county general fund for overhead expenses.

A few positions will be left vacant and travel will be cut.

"They've been very careful to preserve services," Purcell said. "Can they afford to cut more? Probably not."

For parks and open space, expenses would be reduced by 7.37 percent by mowing and fertilizing less, she said.

The library, law library and the finance department would cut 5 percent.

The sheriff's office would cut spending by 1.3 percent and the district attorney by 0.2 percent.

Several organization changes and proposed new revenues in Reno and Sparks Justice courts and the Medical Examiner's Office will come before the commission in a few weeks to finish balancing the budget, according to Purcell's report.