Andrew Clinger, the Reno City Manager, says revenue is up and is hopeful more new businesses will come to town. Both are signs that Reno's economy is on the upswing as we head into the next fiscal year.
For the first time in five years, the Reno City Council has balanced the budget without layoffs. In fact, the police department even added 12 new officers.
"I think that's a sign that we've reached the bottom, economically, and we're starting to improve and the same is true for the city's budget," Clinger said.
Thanks to a $14-million FEMA grant, announced last month, the city was able to keep 64 firefighters that would have been laid-off when Washoe County and Reno deconsolidated their firefighting operations.
"We're not hiring a lot of additional employees, at this time, but the good news is we're retaining the employees that we have," Clinger said.
The city council also avoided making a lot of other cuts and found a way to save $250,000 a year, on payroll.
"We currently process our payroll, in house," Clinger said. "We're looking to outsource that to a national company that really that's all their business is, is payroll."
One of the key signs that points to a growing economy is sales tax revenue, meaning people are spending money, again. Property tax revenues are also crucial.
Even though foreclosure rates are dropping, the outlook there still isn't good.
"We are projecting a decline in the next fiscal year, in property taxes, but we think that will be the last year of decline and then it will begin to flatten out, after that," Clinger said.
Still battling 11.6% unemployment, statewide, Clinger admits the biggest challenge is still job growth. The hope is to diversify the local economy with new businesses, while retaining and expanding the ones that are already here.
"We can't rely on just the tourism to make our economy work, that we have to have other industries come here," Clinger said.
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