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October 1, 2014

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Clark County considers giving firefighters raises early

A loophole in state law is allowing a handful of elected officials to double dip by drawing on their public employee pensions while still receiving additional pay and retirement benefits. Clark County commissioners are looking to end the practice, which costs tens of thousands of dollars each year, during their meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Commissioners also will vote on new contracts with raises for firefighters and deputy sheriffs.

The meeting will be at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

Working retirement

When most government employees retire and begin to receive pension payments, they stay retired. If they return to work for the public sector, state laws require that they stop drawing on their pension.

But a few employees who retired and then successfully sought elected office get to play by a different set of rules that allows them to keep drawing the pension from their old job and the salary and benefits from their new one. Clark County Public Administrator John Cahill, among others, falls into this category

Retired public employees who win political office currently receive retirement benefits paid into a separate private account. The commission will decide Tuesday whether to end those payments into the private account.

Under state law, commissioners are allowed to but not required to make those payments.

New contracts, raises for firefighters

After years with no wage increases for employees, Clark County commissioners have been loosening the purse strings this year to give slight raises to some employees.

Next in line to receive raises are the county’s firefighters and deputy sheriffs, who have contracts awaiting commission approval Tuesday.

The firefighters’ contract doesn’t expire until July 2015, but Clark County has agreed to give a 1.5 percent raise to the 707 members of the union over the last year of the deal. The total cost of the raise is expected to be $1.75 million.

The county’s 12 deputy sheriffs also will see a 1.5 percent raise this year and a 2 percent raise the following year under terms of a new contract that runs through July 2016. The deal is expected to cost the county an additional $42,000 over two years.

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