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Artist's renderings of the Public Safety Building in Reno. (Photo: City of Reno)

City of Reno Stonewalls Request For Public Safety Center Budget

‘Staffing constraints’ and ‘legal review’ are delaying the release of council approved budget documents

By Megan Barth, December 1, 2022 1:34 pm

The Globe has received a copy of an email sent to the person who filed an open records request with the City of Reno in response to our exposé that alleged the Public Safety Center was at least $14 million over budget. Days after after our exposé, the city council quietly doubled the budget to over $70 million. “Staffing constraints” and “legal review” are delaying the release of council approved budget documents

The open records request was filed October 31. The initial response from the City of Reno was that “staffing constraints” delayed the requested records to November 30. Yesterday, the City of Reno claims the budget and related documents are now under “legal review” and will not be provided until December 30.

Response from the City of Reno to an open records request filed October 31, 2022. (Photo: Source)

Back in October, The Globe broke the story related to the ballooning budget of the Public Safety Center in Reno. A source within the city informed The Globe that Phase One of the project was $14 million over budget. The City of Reno had previously approved a $34.5 million budget to rehabilitate the former Reno Gazette Journal (RGJ) into a Public Safety Center. This budget didn’t not include the $7 million the city paid to the RGJ for the building.

We immediately contacted Public Works Director Kerrie Koski, who, a month prior, told the RGJ that “She and her team think that by purchasing and repurposing the building, as opposed to constructing a new facility from the ground up, the city has saved $15-20 million on the new safety center.” Her statements to the RGJ also indicated that the project was over budget.

In response to our email and voicemail, Koski deferred us to a general number in response to our numerous questions. We called the number and received a returned call, but our questions remained unanswered and further emails and phone calls from The Globe were ignored.

Days later, the Reno City Council, led my Mayor Hillary Schieve, approved and increased the budget for the project to $70 million.

D.4 SUPPLEMENTAL SUPPORTING MATERIALS ­ Staff Report (For Possible Action): Approval of Contract Amendment to Plenium Builders, Inc. for the Public Safety Center (PSC) Project ­Phase 2 in the amount of $34,000,000 and to extend the Contract time for completion of Phase 2. (Capital Fund)  [Ward 3]

It is quite odd that a budget and timeline approved in mid-October cannot be readily produced for an open records request. When the person behind the City of Reno’s Twitter account initially replied to our tweeted story with snark and condescension, they suddenly channeled professionalism to inform me that the City Clerk processes 21,000 requests a year and referred me to a web portal.

One might be compelled to wonder why the city can easily double taxpayer-funded budgets with a stroke of the pen, but can’t seem to find any tax-payer money to assist the City Clerk in processing 21,000 open records requests.

The Globe will be filing additional open records requests in relation to this project, and many other projects and related communications. It may behoove the city to staff accordingly.

This is a developing story.

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Megan Barth
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One thought on “City of Reno Stonewalls Request For Public Safety Center Budget

  1. Some efficiency from have everything under one roof, but power outages, fires, gas leaks, terrorist attacks, etc. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Large geographic county, as well

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