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City audit shows no firefighter sick leave abuse in North Las Vegas

Fire department audit

KSNV coverage of North Las Vegas Fire Department audit, April 14, 2011.

North Las Vegas’ audit of its fire department found no pervasive abuse of sick leave, the city announced Thursday.

The city audit found that last year, the 176 fire department employees took an average of 4.6 sick days per person and worked an average of 16 days of overtime.

The City Council sought the audit in early February after Clark County officials reported widespread abuse of sick leave by county firefighters.

At the time, the council also postponed approving a tentative agreement with the firefighters' union that would save the jobs of 33 firefighters by barring union layoffs during the contract period.

“I'm happy the results of a city audit showed the same numbers the fire chief had been telling us all along. There is no sick leave abuse or overtime abuse within the North Las Vegas Fire Department. In fact, the fire chief has had strict controls in place to assure there would be no abuse and our sick leave is reportedly the lowest in the county,” Mayor Shari Buck said in a statement.

“We’ve known this has never been an issue in North Las Vegas,” said Jeff Hurley, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1607. “This is something we’ve been very vigilant about.”

The City Council is expected to vote on the tentative agreement during its meeting on May 4. Hurley said he is hopeful the agreement will pass.

“I assume it will be accepted so we can avoid layoffs,” he said.

Although the city audit found no widespread abuse of sick days, city officials have noted concerns about reining in overtime pay.

Currently, there is an annual deficit of about $1.7 million in the overtime budget. If additional funding can't be found, the city audit recommended the fire department submit an action plan to the city to address how they would fill the budget gap.

The city is also requesting more concessions from its unions after financial projections last week showed an expected $22.6 million shortfall for fiscal year 2012.

The North Las Vegas firefighters' union has made $4 million in concessions in five rounds during the last two years, Hurley said. The union faces its sixth round in the coming months.

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