Marsha Berkbigler column: Life after AB 46
November 18, 2013
Last Tuesday night, the Washoe County Commission decided to not move forward on Assembly Bill 46, allowing it to expire on January 1, 2014.
This was a long process, and there were strong feelings on both sides of the issue; however, since we could not get the four votes necessary to pass the proposal, it was time for us to move forward and address the many other issues impacting the citizens of Washoe County.
As I have said many times and shared again on Tuesday evening, both sides of the debate have merit. Our children spend thousands of hours in our school buildings, and they deserve to learn in a safe environment.
The Legislature sent AB 46 to us without language providing the Commission oversight of how the taxpayer's dollars were to be spent.
No oversight and no requirement that it be sent to a vote of the people were the two major stumbling blocks for Commissioners.
When the Legislature is ready to address the issue of Home Rule which would allow local governments more oversight of issues in their communities without the threat of legal action because the existing law isn't clear, then perhaps this issue will be more palatable to County Commissions across the State.
However until that happens there is strong sentiment among County Commissioners and residents that the County Commission was the wrong venue to debate similar issues.
I want to express my most sincere gratitude to everyone who participated in the process. Our meetings were long and tempers were sometimes short; however, our community showed that we are able to debate a difficult topic with decorum and grace, and for that I thank you.
I believe the many hearings provided the Washoe County School District the opportunity to educate County residents on what a great job they are doing educating our students.
They also provided answers to our many questions and were always gracious when educating the Commissioners on how school districts operate.
I appreciate them and hope this is the beginning of a working relationship between the County Commission and the School Board that will establish positive outcomes for our students and our community to establish an appropriate stream of money for school repairs and improvements.
I look forward to having conversations about the many other issues facing Washoe County. Thank you again for being part of this journey.
Marsha Berkbigler is District 1 commissioner for Washoe County, which includes the communities of Incline Village and Crystal Bay.