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July 29, 2014

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Amid Sandoval’s intervention, NLV reaches deal with 2 unions

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the Las Vegas Sun editorial board Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.

Updated Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | 10 p.m.

With the future of North Las Vegas on the line, Gov. Brian Sandoval today joined negotiations between city officials and union leaders in an attempt to broker deals needed to avert a state takeover.

Sandoval’s efforts proved moderately successful, with deals being announced with two of the city’s four unions by the end of the day. Both the North Las Vegas Firefighters Association and the Teamsters agreed to deals with the city Wednesday. Terms of the deals were not disclosed, and both need approval from union members and the city council before they are finalized.

North Las Vegas officials and police union leaders will return to the bargaining table Thursday, with an eye on cutting deals before the city’s tentative budget is due to the state on April 15.

After seven hours of negotiation Wednesday, North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association President Leonard Cardinale said he was hopeful a deal for his members could be reached Thursday.

“We’re very, very close. Things are pretty positive right now,” he said.

After months of negotiation between North Las Vegas and its unions, Sandoval’s intervention Wednesday was an attempt to break the stalemate.

The secretive meeting at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building of state, city and union officials was kept under wraps early in the day. After multiple media reports on the governor’s involvement in the negotiations, Sandoval’s office released a statement in the afternoon acknowledging his involvement.

"All of the stakeholders have reaffirmed their commitment to the city of North Las Vegas and to resolving their differences," the statement said. "The governor is very supportive of their efforts and is hopeful a resolution will be reached."

The city has been working for months to extract concessions from its unions in order to close an $18 million budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The city also needs to settle an outstanding lawsuit with its public safety unions after a District Court judge ruled in January that employees were wrongfully denied raises during a 2012 fiscal emergency.

Employees are owed as much as $25 million from the withheld benefits, but the city’s poor financial health has left it with only $7.7 million to offer in return.

If the city is unable to reach deals with its two police unions, it could leave a hole in the budget requiring layoffs and cuts to services.

An unbalanced budget would also put the city at risk of a state takeover and eventually disincorporation.

Mayor John Lee was confident Wednesday evening that the city will be able to solve its budget problems, saying that deals with its police unions are close.

“This is going very well,” Lee said. “We’re going to get this fixed.”

Negotiations between the city and its unions will continue throughout Thursday. The city is also scheduled to present its tentative budget at a special city council meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at city hall.

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