Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2014

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NLV struggling to seal a deal with unions, setting back its fiscal goals

Protracted negotiations between North Las Vegas and its unions are forcing the city to push back an April deadline it had set to solve its severe financial problems.

The city had hoped to reach a deal with its unions to close an $18 million deficit before it submitted its tentative budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the state on April 15.

But during a city council meeting tonight, officials indicated that the back and forth with its four unions hadn’t resulted in a firm deal, meaning negotiations will likely drag on into April and possibly May.

“We’ve been feverishly meeting as a team with union leadership ... there’s been great progress with the bargaining groups, but there’s still work to be done,” said interim City Manager Jeff Buchanan. “The sense of urgency is real … we ask that we get a little bit more time.”

The city must solve two separate issues with its unions. The first deals with a January District Court judgment that the city wrongfully withheld contractually owed raises to its public safety employees, payments worth about $25 million over two years.

The city is attempting to settle the lawsuit filed by the unions using $7.7 million it scraped together from several municipal funds. Under a settlement agreement approved Wednesday night by the council, the city’s police union would receive $4.2 million, the fire union $2.1 million, the police supervisors union $143,000 and Teamsters union $1.2 million.

So far no unions have signed off on the proposed deal.

The city is also negotiating concessions with its police officers and Teamsters unions, whose contracts both expire on June 30.

With the right deal, the city says it can close an $18 million structural budget deficit it faces in fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1.

If the city can’t close its deficit through union settlements, it would be forced to turn to steep cuts to services and layoffs, or risk a take-over by the state.

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