China Spring faces layoffs to balance budget

The entrance to China Spring Youth Camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pinenut Mountains.

The entrance to China Spring Youth Camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pinenut Mountains.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

Advisors voted to recommend what they deemed the least invasive means to balance China Spring Youth Camp’s budget.

Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the issue at their meeting on Thursday.

The China Spring Youth Camp Advisory Board voted for an option that would eliminate seven positions leaving the camp’s staffing at 36 full-time and six on-call. Two of the positions are vacant, and four would be subject to the county’s layoff process. A fifth is a member of the Douglas County Employee Association.

One of the key issues is that Medicaid reimbursements for this year were budgeted for $1 million and only came in at $195,000.

Those numbers are going to have to come up by $250,000 next year in order to bring the camp even close to breaking even.

The camp is projected to receive $3.48 million from the state and other 15 counties participating in the program.

While the preferred plan balances the budget this year, it still sets up a $609,703 deficit for 2025-26, according a budget presented by county Human Resources Director Wendy Lang.

That and some additional funding were paid for from American Rescue Plan funds that will expire this year.

Besides the overestimation of Medicaid funds, the Nevada Legislature cut state funding to the camp in 2019.

No one thought it would be a good idea to pick Plan B, which entails closing the girls part of the camp known as Aurora Pines in order to eliminate 14 positions.

Sheriff Dan Coverley expressed concern about being able to reopen the girls side once it is shut down.

Lang agreed with him.

“In recent years it has been very difficult to rebuild those ranks of people who can work the floor,” she said.

Even if the county did the full cut, the camp would still be short $129,625 for the 2025-26 year.

At a previous meeting, District Judge Tod Young suggested that the county should approach the state about increasing its contribution to the camp.

Camp employees were concerned about the proposed cuts to the camp budget.

IT Director Anthony Sullivan had several questions about the proposed budget, which includes a proposal to eliminate his position.

He also defended Training and Development Manager Leslie Keith, who has worked for the county for 19 years and whose position is also on the block.

Employee Casey Meeks said he has been at the camp for a year and most of the people he trained with are gone.

“This is not a summer camp,” he said. “These kids are convicted of crimes. The majority of people I went through training with are not with the program anymore. They didn’t make the cut. It is very hard to replenish the staff.”

Governance of the camp was transferred from the judiciary to the county earlier this year.

China Spring is not a boot camp, and offers several programs, including training, classes, services and therapy for trauma, commercial sexual exploitation, domestic violence and anger management. 

China Spring also offers behavioral healthcare services, including services for people who have a substance use disorder as well as a mental health disorder.

China Spring is located in the Pine Nut Mountains south of Highway 395. Originally opened on Aug. 1, 1983, the 40-acre camp site was donated by rancher Stoddard Jacobsen.

The camp closed for two years but reopened after being redesigned by District Judge Norm Robison, who helped build the structures.

Aurora Pines was added to house girls in 2002.

The camp accepts offenders ages 12-18. Those juveniles sent to China Spring cannot be convicted of a felony.


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