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September 2, 2015

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North Las Vegas seeks audit of firefighter sick leave, overtime

Anita Wood

Anita Wood

The North Las Vegas City Council postponed approving a tentative agreement with the firefighters union on Wednesday so city officials can audit the department’s use of sick days and overtime.

The tentative agreement between the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1607 would save the jobs of 33 firefighters by barring union layoffs during the contract period.

The council voted 4-1, with Mayor Shari Buck the sole dissenter, to postpone approving the agreement for 60 days.

The decision to conduct the audit comes days after Clark County officials reported abuse of sick leave by county firefighters was more widespread than initially acknowledged by the union.

“I appreciate the IAFF and the work they’ve done, but we can’t look at this in a vacuum,” Councilwoman Anita Wood said. She said she would like to make sure sick leave abuse is not an issue in North Las Vegas.

Wood estimated that fire department overtime could be well over budget, upwards of $1 million, by the end of the fiscal year at its current rate. The proposed agreement’s no-layoffs commitment would complicate the city’s financial situation if the department cannot solve the overtime problem, she said.

In January, the city and the firefighters’ union entered a tentative agreement that includes concessions to help close a projected $35.1 million city budget gap during the next two years.

The union made $3 million in concessions, eliminating a 3.75 percent wage increase and a cost-of-living increase this year and freezing selling back holiday and sick leave.

The city in turn would agree to not lay off union members or study privatizing ambulance, medical and fire services.

Should the concessions agreement fall through, the city could lay off firefighters as early as July 1.

Both the city’s Teamsters and police officers unions have made concessions since a budget reduction plan was presented in October. The concessions from the three unions would save 188 public-sector jobs.

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