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2015 State of the City

It's A New Day in Reno

Post Date:09/01/2015 5:40 PM


✯ ✯ ✯ ✯  City of Reno  ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

2015 State of the City

September 1, 2015 at 6 p.m., University of Nevada, Reno

Watch the 2015 State of the City address

View the slide presentation here

View the 2014-2015 Annual Report here

Introduction by City Manager Andrew Clinger:

Good evening fellow Reno citizens, and thank you for being here this evening. To Reno City Council, City of Reno staff, community leaders, and citizens, we are honored that you have joined us tonight.

Will everyone please rise for the Presentation of Colors by the Reno Police Department and the Reno Fire Department?

We have incredible talent here at the City of Reno and the National Anthem will be performed by our very own Deanna Gescheider.

Thank you. What a great way to kick off the State of the City. Before we begin, I’d like to invite you to participate in tonight’s event by using #SOTCReno on social media.

Tonight, we will hear from the Mayor, Hillary Schieve, who will discuss her perspective on why it’s a new day in Reno, and the impact that this renewed energy will have on our future. Just look at all of the displays in the back of the room featuring all the exciting announcements and projects on the horizon. This is the Reno Revival.

You will learn about our City Council’s new strategic priorities and how city employees are already implementing them. You will also hear about our accomplishments over the past year, some of the major opportunities we can capitalize on moving forward, and how you can influence what your city will look like in the future.

I am proud to say that for the first time in 20 years, our citizens will have an opportunity to “Reimagine Reno.” We can’t accomplish this without you. We are holding Reimagine Reno focus groups this summer and fall. Please go to and take the survey.

Looking ahead, as an organization the City of Reno remains focused on fiscal responsibility and reducing debt while funding critical public safety and maintenance needs, creating a more business-friendly city, and fostering a vibrant downtown.

Reno’s future is bright, and I look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council to continue to move the Biggest Little City in a new direction. Before we bring the Mayor up on stage, we’re going to show a quick video that will set the tone for this year’s State of the City address:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.

2015 State of the City address by Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve:

Good evening. I’m both humbled and excited by your warm welcome.

As Andrew said, truly this is a new day in Reno. In fact, there has never been a more exciting time to live in Reno.

Tonight we’re here to celebrate how far we’ve come and to dream and strategize about how far we can go. I’m blessed to have served for nearly a year as the Mayor, and tonight I am pleased to share with you a Reno Revival.

It is very exciting that we are having our State of the City right here at the University of Nevada, Reno, a Tier 1 University. Now more than ever we are a university town. Please give President Marc Johnson and our entire university a round of applause for hosting us tonight.

I am proud to say that Reno is coming into its own. Our city is making calculated changes to lay the foundation for sustainable growth and a promising future, starting with the election of a new City Council.

Our community’s commitment to this Reno Revival is receiving national recognition. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business, and many other national publications are writing about Reno’s emerging neighborhoods, such as Midtown, downtown, and the Fourth Street corridor.

We have a booming technology industry with billions of dollars being invested from some of Fortune’s highest-ranked companies. We’ve got Tesla’s gigafactory, Switch, Amazon, and Microsoft all right here in northern Nevada.

Speaking of Microsoft, tonight I am proud to honor a company that was the first tech giant to believe in Reno. It is with incredible excitement that we announce Microsoft will invest more than $10 million to upgrade its current campus. This project shows Microsoft’s commitment and investment in the City of Reno.

At this time I am happy to introduce Microsoft General Manager of Worldwide Credit Services Mark Creighton and Community Relations Manager Kerri Garcia. Please stand. Thank you to the members of the Microsoft team. We are honored to have you here.

Another industry that is making great strides is recreational tourism. It is now becoming one of the biggest economic drivers across the country. Because the City of Reno has been so hard hit financially we are fortunate to have community partners who ensure that our soccer fields, community pools, and ice-skating rinks become places for children and thousands of tourists to visit.

At this time I would like to recognize a few of these recreation champions. Will Richard Jay from Great Basin Youth Soccer league; Joel Grace from the Jennifer M. O’Neal Ice Arena; Chip Hobson from Sierra Aquatics; and Eric Edelstein from the Reno Aces. Please stand for a huge round of applause.

Can you believe that Reno just wrapped up the 20th season of Artown? This year we had nearly 500 events during the month of July. I am so proud to say that 70 percent of those events were free to the public. Thank you to the Artown board for their commitment to make this national event thrive.

This year the city also hosted Reno Sculpture Fest, thanks to the hard work of Aric Shapiro and the Regional Alliance for Downtown. This larger-than-life event brought thousands of people downtown.

Just this year, the City Council allocated funds to purchase the massive “BELIEVE” sculpture that was originally displayed at Burning Man and will now have a permanent home right here in the Biggest Little City. Thank you to our Arts & Culture Commission for making Reno a one-of-a-kind destination.

In order to implement these exciting changes, we need a solid educational foundation. I would like to thank Nevada’s legislative leaders and Governor Sandoval for their commitment to transforming and modernizing nevada’s education system during the 2015 legislative session.

Reno is also committed to education. Earlier this year, the City Council voted to work directly with the Education Alliance of Nevada to ensure we do our part to support tomorrow’s workforce. As a city we have a responsibility to ensure schools are able to accommodate future growth.

At this time I’d like to recognize Education Alliance President Jim Pfrommer, who is playing an important role in this endeavor.

After years of downsizing and difficult decisions, I am elated to announce tonight that Reno is growing again. Reno’s population is currently more than 235,000 with an additional 200,000 people living in Sparks and unincorporated Washoe County.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada forecasts significant growth and an increase of more than 50,000 new jobs in our region by 2020. And I am also proud to say our unemployment rate is currently 6.3 percent. This is half of what it was just a few short years ago.

In order to build on this momentum and provide new and expanding businesses with employees, we must look to our educational institutions. Last year the University of Nevada, Reno produced nearly 4,000 graduates, the most in the history of the university. In addition, Truckee Meadows Community College serves more than 25,000 students each year, including in the exciting field of drone technicians.

There is good news surrounding our K-12 schools as well. The Washoe County School District’s graduation rate, which set a record last year, is projected to rise again this year.

One of the main reasons we are here tonight, however, is to share with you some of the great work our City Council is doing. At this time I would like our six Council Members to stand up and be recognized because I could not succeed as Mayor without their dedication and support.

Thank you. Tonight you will hear from each of our Council Members in a series of videos that will cover some of the City’s accomplishments and priorities. First we’re going to hear from Ward 1 Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus about the importance of planning for growth:

As Councilwoman Brekhus discussed, we are replacing outdated infrastructure. This year the City Council allocated $50 million toward several infrastructure improvements in the Capital Improvement Plan. Included in these improvements are the replacement of old sewer lines, updating playground equipment, new lighting for neighborhood parks, upgrading our pools, and the revitalization of Virginia Lake.

Now we’re going to play a video featuring Ward 2 Councilwoman Naomi Duerr:

For the first time in five years, we have money in our rainy day account in the amount of $2.1 million. We will continue to dedicate a portion of future revenues to protect us from potential future economic downturns.

Debt reduction continues to highlight our commitment to fiscal stability. In the past year the City paid off five separate bonds totaling nearly $10 million. The City of Reno’s total debt has decreased by more than... are you ready for this?... $130 million.

Although we have made great strides regarding the City’s financial stability there is still more to be done. Council has for the first time adopted a plan that would set aside funds every year to address future retiree health benefits.

This City Council has taken a conservative approach to spending your tax dollars.

Just like every family in Reno has to do with their own finances, we will not burden the taxpayers with debt we cannot afford. I’d like to recognize our entire Finance team for these incredible accomplishments. Please stand and be recognized.

Now we’re going to play a video featuring Ward 3 Councilman Oscar Delgado:

Creating sustainable neighborhoods for all age groups will be critical, but particularly for our seniors. As our aging population grows in Reno, we will continue to pay close attention. I am very proud to announce that since I was elected as a Councilperson, and now as Mayor, I have made it a priority to restore funding for senior services.

This would not be a reality without our senior champions who work every single day to make the lives better for our senior population. Please join me in recognizing Wendy Boszack from the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee.

One of the most impactful initiatives that we have reinstated is the City of Reno Neighborhood Advisory Boards. Each of the nabs provide citizens the opportunity for early engagement on important community issues and gives a voice back to the people who greatly shape this community.

We look forward to the continuation of making the nabs stronger than ever by listening to citizen feedback. I cannot begin to stress the gratitude for all those who take time from their busy lives to help make our city better. At this time I’d like to ask those NAB members who could join us tonight to stand up and be recognized.

Now we’re going to play a video featuring Ward 4 Councilman Paul McKenzie:

Well put, Councilman McKenzie I always say that, “A safe city is a prosperous city.” It is imperative that our pedestrians are safe.

We are committed to ensuring pedestrian safety and have implemented a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan in collaboration with RTC. The City has allocated $400,000 this year for much-needed improvements such as bike lanes and wider sidewalks.

Again, when it comes to pedestrian safety, one person in particular comes to mind. I am proud to recognize someone who has worked tirelessly for extreme modifications where 13 pedestrians died since 1994 at just one intersection. Today we can proudly say we made pedestrian safety a top priority by installing a light at the Bonanza Casino intersection.

One citizen championed this for over a decade and should certainly not go unrecognized. We owe this success to Bonanza Casino General Manager Ryan Sheltra, who I’d like to recognize for what I call being a city super hero. Please stand Mr. Ryan Sheltra.

Police and fire remain a top priority for your City Council. Did you know that Fire Station 1 here in the Biggest Little City is the third-busiest station in the country? In 2014, the Reno Fire Department answered almost 35,000 calls for service with an average response time of 5 minutes and 46 seconds, well under the national standard.

Before the current Council was elected, the City had an increasingly combative relationship with its public safety unions costing the taxpayers more than $1 million in legal fees.

I’m proud to say in May 2015, the Council unanimously approved a two-year agreement with our firefighters that would allow the elimination of lifetime medical benefits for future hires saving the City $7,000 a year for each new hire. But what I’m most proud of is that we will be able to now provide life-saving paramedic services at no additional cost to the taxpayers.

Finally, for the first time in eight years, I’m proud to announce we are hiring new firefighters. That means more boots on the ground to help keep our community safe.

Starting October 1, 2015, Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County will join us at the table to provide automatic aid, and i thank them. This is a great start, but we need consolidation now more than ever. Citizens deserve the best possible fire service that their tax money can buy, and right now they’re not getting it. I won’t take no for an answer.

As most of you know, I know first hand the devastation of fire and I will not be satisfied until every citizen is protected adequately. It is time that the politics of the past be set aside in the spirit of cooperation.

At this time I would like to thank Chief Dave Cochran and the Reno firefighters for their dedication and commitment to public safety. Please join me in a round of applause for our Reno firefighters and Chief Cochran.

Under Chief Jason Soto’s leadership, we recognized that Police Department staffing was still at 1970 levels, which is unacceptable. He allocated additional resources to hire more police officers this year. Chief Soto also made the commitment to reopen our police stations on weekends, bringing us back to seven-day-a-week full-time service.

In 2014, the Reno Police Department answered more than 200,000 calls for service and had an impressive average response time of 5 minutes and 38 seconds to Priority 1 calls.

We are also proud that the Reno Police Department is nationally recognized as a model for community policing and problem solving. In fact, in the most recent President’s Task Force on 21st century Policing, President Obama mentioned the Reno Police Department as a national leader. He cited our training model in hopes that other police forces will emulate this kind of excellence throughout the country.

At this time, I would like to recognize the men and women of the Reno Police Department and Chief Soto for your compassion, dedication, and powerful leadership in making the Reno Police Department truly one of the finest in the country. Please stand to be recognized.

Reno continues to be at the forefront of innovation. We know that technology is playing a huge role in our community, but many of you may not know that we are making big technology advancements right here at the city level.

What do you get when you merge top law enforcement technology specialists and an apple product developer? You get something that by just one touch of a button can help citizens and law enforcement abate graffiti, report crimes, and identify criminals.

Known to be the first of its kind throughout the country, the Reno Police Department will soon unveil its myRPD app.

We believe this will give a new name to community policing. We anticipate that this technology can and will be used by hundreds of other agencies. This will reduce crime greatly and solve many challenges law enforcement face. The app will soon be live and ready for everyone to download.

I’d like to recognize our local technology team: Reno Police Officer Noah Gallop, Bob Lissner, Janice Baker, and John Molt, who have all worked extremely hard on this project. Can you please stand?

Finally it is equally important to recognize our dispatch center, which answered more than 468,000 non-emergency and 911 calls last year. These men and women sometimes fall under the radar but they are our first responders and their hard work is invaluable. Please join me now in recognizing Assistant Director of Emergency Communications Suzy Rogers and her team.

Right now, we will hear from Ward 5 Councilwoman Neoma Jardon:

Creating a vibrant downtown was identified in a recent city survey as a top concern for residents. It is also a priority for your City Council. In order to achieve this, we have begun to develop a strategic action plan to address homelessness, cleanliness, and public safety downtown.

Recognizing that our downtown includes the continued care of our homeless citizens, we must make sure that they are not forgotten. This is why the Council created a task force to deal with issues of homelessness in our region. In addition, we are currently working with the Governor’s Office and our regional partners to eliminate gaps in service and expand access to low income housing.

Earlier this year, Council approved a $ 1 million Blight Mitigation Fund. We will take a strict approach to clean up weekly motels, demolish dangerous buildings, and aggressively fight graffiti.

When we talk about blight we certainly must recognize an eye sore that has plagued our city for more than 30 years. I’m talking about the Kings Inn. Finally, it will be turned into modern housing and vibrant retail. Tonight i’d like to recognize Par Tolles from Basin Street Properties and all the many developers who are helping to change the face of Reno.

Now we’re going to play a video featuring Councilman At-Large David Bobzien:

As an entrepreneur, I am a huge supporter of business and understand the challenges they face just to open their doors. One of the primary reasons I ran for office was that I was extremely frustrated with Reno’s business license process.

Recently the City launched the new Business First Program. You can now call the Business First Hotline or make an appointment online to track the business process. We also plan to implement the online regional license portal. It will allow us to be a one-stop shop for all business-related needs.

We are business-friendly here in the Biggest Little City.

As our city continues to grow and we continue to attract new businesses to our region, we must be mindful of the challenges that lie ahead. One of those challenges is how we respond to the extreme drought.

I’m proud of the City’s drought conservation efforts and progress to date, but we can also do more. Currently, our Parks and Recreation department recently reported a reduction in water usage of 20 percent from the prior year. In addition, Public Works’ water consumption is trending toward a 40 percent reduction in usage from its average.

Right now, we are working on a Climate Action Initiative that will become part of the Reimagine Reno master plan. We will be asking for your input on drought conservation measures as we plan for the future. Tonight I ask all of us to be cognizant of our water consumption in our homes and businesses.

Given all of the accomplishments we’ve touched on this evening, I can’t emphasize enough that the City of Reno continues to make incredible strides with limited resources. And that’s a true tribute to our hard-working staff.

It is our staff who make this City great and without a doubt you make this Council shine. Will City Manager Andrew Clinger and all City of Reno employees stand up at this time to be recognized?

As you know, Reno suffered from the dramatic effects of the real estate bubble and economic recession. I am proud to say that the City of Reno has proven to be resilient. Reno has reinvented itself to become a mecca for entrepreneurs, young professionals, progressive businesses, and an arts and culture community that I believe can stand up to any major metropolitan city any day.

You have this City Council’s commitment that community input will continue to drive the important decisions we make.

Individuals looking to raise families and build bright and successful futures are gravitating toward Reno. This city is the definition of the new “American dream.”

Even though there’s new energy in our city and it’s truly a new day in Reno, make no mistake that we are also extremely proud of our roots as the Biggest Little City in the World. It’s who we are.

With that in mind, no city is more poised for the Biggest Little come back!

At this time I would like everyone here tonight to please stand up… because you are the Biggest Little City in the World.

It’s a new day in Reno!

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