Las Vegas Sun

May 27, 2015

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North Las Vegas announces proposal to cut 251 jobs

North Las Vegas officials announced a proposal Wednesday night to eliminate 251 full-time jobs over the next two fiscal years, including 33 firefighters and 93 positions at the police department.

The proposal, which was presented by Acting City Manager Maryann Ustick, included a 15 percent reduction in jobs across the city’s fire and police departments — groups that, until recently, had escaped the chopping block.

If the proposal is adopted, 27 police officer positions paid by the city would be cut, although the city recently received a federal grant to retain 16 of those 27.

Altogether, 93 full-time positions — 18 of which are vacant — within the police department would be cut, saving the city about $9.1 million.

The cuts will make the code enforcement team “reactionary” to citizen complaints rather than “proactive” because there won’t be enough officers available to look for infractions, Ustick said.

As Ustick announced that 33 firefighters would likely lose their jobs if no further concessions are made by their union, a loud crack of thunder boomed outside the council chambers.

“I don’t think the fire chief arranged for that,” Ustick said.

Public Works also would shed employees, including 30 Teamsters. Eight other positions iwould be left vacant, saving the city about $4.2 million.

The impact of the reductions would likely be noticed around the city, Ustick said. For example, it used to take the city 24 hours to repair damage to streetlights. As the result of cuts already made, it now takes seven days.

Ustick said the finance department could see a reduction of six positions, including two that already are vacant, cutting the department to the bone. “We can’t go below this level,” she said.

This fiscal year — July 1 to June 30 — the city must reduce its budget by about $10 million. Before June 2012, the city will have to cut about $35.1 million from its budget.

Each year, the city is required to present a balanced budget to the state.

Other proposed cuts to the budget included reductions in service, leaving open vacant positions and consolidating city departments, such as the city clerk and city manager’s offices.

Wednesday’s 4:30 p.m. special City Council meeting lasted about an hour — cut short by a power outage.

During that time, the council heard from Ustick and Acting Finance Director Al Noyola about the city’s budget problems and possible solutions.

Dozens of members of the Teamsters Union attended the meeting but did not have a chance to speak before the power outage. Many of the layoffs proposed Wednesday night were for Teamster-held positions.

The city laid off 188 city employees in June to cut costs. None of those positions were in public safety.

The city is in ongoing talks with the Teamsters, firefighters and police unions about where budget cuts can be made to avoid layoffs. Items on the regular City Council agenda were deferred to the Nov. 3 meeting.

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