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Near-flood expenditures approved by City Council
by Garrett Valenzuela
Feb 25, 2013 | 2466 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo -- The flood threat in November 2012 sent Sparks Industrial Area employees to sandbag stations in the city, which were setup using City of Sparks funds totaling more than $160,000.
Tribune file photo -- The flood threat in November 2012 sent Sparks Industrial Area employees to sandbag stations in the city, which were setup using City of Sparks funds totaling more than $160,000.
SPARKS — The Sparks City Council analyzed and approved expenditures Monday afternoon following the declared state of emergency in late November of last year. City of Sparks Capital Projects Manager Chris Cobb reported a total of $160,571 spent during flood prevention preparations.

In a breakdown of the city’s expenses, dubbed “Pineapple Express,” non-public safety overtime tallied the largest bill with more than $70,000 spent between the city’s Sewer and Storm Drain Operations, General, Equipment and Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF) funds. Public safety overtime recorded $23,585 spent, which was only $30 more than was given to Reno Tahoe Construction for sandbags.

The remainder of expenses for the flood emergency were spread across sand buying, hauling and pickup, ditch clean-up, drain cleaning and traffic control message boards. Cobb said proof of the city’s efficiency in preparing for the flood lies in its response time to the declared emergency.

“We received word of the emergency at 1 p.m. on Nov. 29 and by 6:30 p.m. we had 10 of 11 sandbag stations set up in the Sparks Industrial Area,” he said. “I am really proud of our team in maintenance and TMWRF.”

City staff also identified some possible improvements that could be made to their emergency action plan, including having 1,000 tons of on-hand sand during flood season and working with the City of Reno and the Nevada Department of Transportation when closing roads in the Sparks Industrial Area. Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said even though the flooding did not occur, the “staff did a great job during that event and preparation.”

The Sparks City Council also decided to remain outside all talks of fire department consolidation between the cities of Reno and Sparks and Washoe County. The Washoe County Board of County Commissioners established a Blue Ribbon Committee to review the consolidation matters, but the City of Sparks plans to stand by its 2002 Resolution No. 2776 and keep out of the consolidation talks.

Assistant City Manager Stephen Driscoll said the resolution was the “backbone” for the previous invitations to participate.

“I don’t want us to participate unless we can just be a fly on the wall and be able to listen,” Councilman Ron Smith said.

Councilman Ron Schmitt said for him “it all comes down to cost,” and added that the 11-year resolution to keep out of the consolidation discussion has served the city and its constituents well.

“There has been an incredible amount of time and energy spent on this and I think going into these talks would waste the taxpayer’s money,” Schmitt said. “If we don’t know what the long-term costs will be, then they have the potential to go up, and I can’t see approving something like that.”

Councilman Ed Lawson also weighed in on the issue, saying the Sparks Fire Department is “kicking butt” in their recent response times and that trying to participate in the review committee would drain city funds.

“I really don’t see it working for us,” he said. “I agree that we should definitely monitor all the things we are doing but there is no reason to spend this kind of money.”

The agreement to consolidate with the Reno Fire Department would result in a 47 percent increase in daily and annual operating costs, or an additional $2,738,312, according to city documents.

Other City Council Decisions

•The City Council approved a lease agreement with the Reno Rodeo Foundation, providing the non-profit organization to obtain management control of the Joe Gandolfo Rodeo Arena in Sparks.

Sparks Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Domingues said the Reno Rodeo Foundation has the expertise to maintain the facility on Loop Road better than the City of Sparks.

Domingues said the foundation will be renting out the rodeo arena for events and will help bring awareness to the rodeo in the future.
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