State of the City: Reno planning for financial future while facing steep debt

Aug 27, 2014

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger delivers Wednesday's State of the City address in the Reno City Council chambers.

At Wednesday's State of the City address in Reno, officials said they've been doing more with less since their workforce has shrunk by a third in recent years. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss was there and has the details.

Over the past five years, the City has gone from employing 1,600 people back in 2009 to less than 1,100 right now. Along with overcoming those staffing hurdles, City Manager Andrew Clinger, who delivered the speech, says Reno is also planning ahead for a solid financial future.

Clinger does acknowledge, however, that the city is up against some significant challenges.

"For starters," he says, "we carry what many would consider to be significant bond debt at more than $500 million dollars."

The City is also carrying a $210 million unfunded liability related to its retiree health benefits.

"Currently, we use a pay-as-you-go model," Clinger explains, "which only pays for actual yearly expenses and puts nothing aside to satisfy this long-term cost."

Reno has established a trust fund to deal with the issue, but Clinger says the city still remains well below its current required annual contribution of $17.6 million.

He says other areas for concern include city parks in need of repairs and revitalization, along with the aging infrastructure in downtown Reno.

A bright spot highlighted during the address is Reno's improved unemployment rate of 7.3 percent last month, compared to a peak rate of more than 13 percent back in 2010. The city is seeing increased tourism as well with more than 4.5 million visitors to Washoe County last year.