Lyon County and RSVP come to a funding truce for $2,000

YERINGTON - A $2,000 gesture Thursday will keep the Retired Senior Volunteer Program going in Lyon County.

RSVP came close to pulling out of Lyon County at the end of the year because the commission in summer approved less money than any other county with an RSVP office.

"It was a good-faith gesture on their part," said Janice Ayres, RSVP's executive director of Thursday's vote. "This will let us keep the program intact."

Nevada Rural Counties RSVP provides opportunities for senior citizens to volunteer in 15 counties - for 40 different groups in Lyon. The largest number of Lyon County's 185 RSVP volunteers serve at community centers in Dayton, Fernley and Silver Springs, with others at libraries, food banks, schools and veterans organizations.

The commission vote followed four months of lobbying from Ayres, who was incensed when she found out in July that the commission would give only $2,000 of the $15,000 she requested.

Commissioners in summer also told her they would not reconsider the amount and that Ayres should have addressed the commission during budget hearings.

Ayres said she asked County Manager Steve Snyder in February to notify her when RSVP's budget would be addressed but she said she was never told, and by they time she checked with Snyder the budget had already been finalized.

"It got off on the wrong foot," Ayres said. "We will come back next year and do this in a timely manner."

Ayres, known for her tenacity, promised to keep in regular touch with Snyder to make sure she knows exactly when the commission will consider RSVP. Commissioner Bob Milz recommended just that.

"Next year during budget season, jump on Steve and make sure you're here," Milz said. "That's what caused the problem this year."

Funding from seven counties and two cities provides about $70,000 of RSVP's annual operating costs of $465,000. A federal grant funds $151,000 and fund-raisers including nine fairs and three golf tournaments cover the rest.

Counties typically award RSVP about half of what Ayres requests, though Carson City and White Pine County fill her requests entirely. All the counties this year gave more than Lyon County, even though Ayres points out that reimbursing volunteers in Lyon costs more than anywhere else except Carson City.

She said the cost of providing service in Lyon County last year was $60,375.

Lyon County also has the highest percentage of residents over the age of 55 of any county in Nevada at 34 percent.

When asked why county taxpayer funds should go to RSVP, Ayres justifies it by saying volunteers save the counties money they would have to spend hiring staff.

"Do the senior centers want to hire staff?" Ayres said. "They would have to put staff in all the programs."


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