Thursday, July 21, 2011 | 1:04 p.m.
Residents of North Las Vegas fear that the city’s budget shortfall might cost them their recreational centers and pools — but they're hoping those facilities will be saved with contract concessions from the city's two police labor unions.
Worried parents, children, teens and senior citizens filled Council Chambers to capacity Wednesday night to tell the council that they wouldn't accept the closing of their community centers.
According to Acting Finance Director Al Noyola, the city has a $6.1 million gap in its 2012 budget and might have to lay off 35 to 40 non-public safety employees to save about $4.1 million, which would close community and senior citizen recreational centers around the city.
Andrea Cordero, a high school senior, has been traveling for years from her home near McCarran Airport to North Las Vegas to take karate lessons at the Neighborhood Recreational Center on North Bruce Street. Cordero says she knows disadvantaged youths who count on the center.
“Kids need a place to be safe and where they can learn,” she told the council.
Cordero and dozens of other residents pleaded with the council to reconsider closing the facilities and to look instead to take concessions from the two police unions, the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association and the Police Supervisors Association.
Mayor Sheri Buck assured the crowd that negotiations with those unions were under way.
“You won’t find a council member that wants to close a rec center,” Buck said.
She said negotiations with the police unions were going well but that it might take a few weeks before they reach an agreement.
North Las Vegas POA Vice President Vili Fetapai said police officers have already given $3.65 million in the last fiscal year but were still trying to compromise with the city.
“We’re still talking with them even though we have been mistreated by some council members,” Fetapai said.
The council ended the meeting by voting to eliminate vacant positions to save $1.2 million and to continue to seek concessions with the unions.