Director’s Report, March 2009

[NOTE: This was sent to DCNR employees last week.]

Good afternoon to everyone in DCNR. I hope you are having a great late winter.

Budget Update

We have now gone through three sets of hearings where we presented our division budgets in detail and fielded a number of questions. One outcome of those hearings has been considerable news coverage in the print and broadcast media. One bright spot has been the stated appreciation of legislators for what we do and how important our mission is to our citizens and visitors.

The active part of the budget process for us is pretty much over. Other than answering the occasional question or two, the budgets are in the hands of the legislators. At this point, it is difficult to predict an outcome, especially in light of the recent projections of continued revenue declines. The process is primarily wait-and-see at this point, and I don’t expect any real decisions for another month or two. I will update you as milestones occur.

Legislation Update

Many of us in the department have been busy responding to and testifying on bills before the legislature. The legislative committees have really hit the ground running and in the first five weeks of the session having two, three or even four DCNR bills in hearings during one day have been the norm. So far we have had good success and many of our department sponsored bills have progressed through committee and onto the floor of the house of origin. Next month I’ll give you a specific update of some of the bills with which we have been actively participating.

Water Resources’ Rob Martinez Leads Dam Safety Association

We have a number of employees who are involved in leadership positions in associations related to their positions in DCNR. One is Rob Martinez, of the Division of Water Resources, who is the current president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. In January the Association released a report about the state of the nation’s dams and dam safety concerns. I encourage you to read it here.

Forestry Nursery Has Plants for Sale in Las Vegas

Two of the Department’s tremendous assets are its northern and southern nurseries operated by the Nevada Division of Forestry. The Las Vegas nursery is open year round and is currently having a sale on more than 50 species of plants. Please visit the nursery’s Web site for more information:. (The Washoe nursery opens for the season in May).

Public Information and Employee Salaries

As you may have noticed, the Reno Gazette-Journal has recently been publishing a series of stories about public employee salaries. What the Gazette-Journal has done is to create a searchable database of Reno, Washoe County, the Washoe County School District, RTC and State of Nevada employee salaries. It appears not all state salaries have been entered into the database.

The issue of publishing employee salaries is often contentious, and the debate has grown about the Gazette’s database. At the same time, as a state agency, our salaries are public information. As public servants, just about everything we do is open to the public, including our salaries. While the debate about this issue is not definitive, I think it serves as a reminder that governments are expected to be open and accessible, and that sometimes includes having information published that may not always make us comfortable.

Have a fantastic March!

Allen Biaggi
Director

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