Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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LV City Council to mull pot shop moratorium, fire department changes

The Las Vegas City Council will get an update Wednesday on changes being made to the city’s fire department meant to save money and improve efficiency. The council will also discuss whether to extend its moratorium on medical marijuana establishments when it meets at 9 a.m. at city hall, 495 S. Main St.

Fire department changes

A 2012 report by the International City/County Management Association listed 23 recommendations to improve operations at Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.

One of the top issues identified was the way the city splits its ambulance transports with a private provider, costing the city upwards of $10 million in lost revenues.

Chief William McDonald has already made changes toward increasing the department’s productivity, announcing a policy change effective Monday that will see city ambulances transporting a greater share of patients to the hospital.

On Wednesday, McDonald, who was hired in July, will report to the council on other changes being made within the department as a result of the ICMA study.

Medical marijuana deadline

The Las Vegas City Council offered tentative support for the medical marijuana businesses when it directed staff to begin working on new licensing regulations for the emerging industry.

Those regulations likely won’t be ready by the time the city’s ban on medical marijuana business license applications expires on March 17, meaning council members will have to decide whether to extend the moratorium.

An ordinance to be introduced Wednesday would extend that ban for another six months or until the city council passes rules to govern the medical marijuana industry. The council will likely vote on the ordinance at a meeting later this month.

Officials believe the moratorium will give the city adequate time to craft its regulations without fear of eager applicants filing for a license before rules are in place.

Work card revisions

The city has spent the past several months revising its work card system, which requires employees in certain industries to undergo a background check and review by the city.

A total of 16 jobs still require work cards, but some council members say the program, which was introduced to restrict organized crime’s access to certain industries, is outdated and needs to be pared down.

A bill up for approval Wednesday would reduce the number of job types requiring a work card to eight. Restaurant servers, convenience store clerks, pawnbrokers and apartment staff are among those who would no longer be required to obtain a work card. Locksmiths, bartenders and erotic entertainers would still need a work card under the proposed changes.

The bill was put on hold at a meeting last month over concerns that appeals of work card denials could still work their way to the city council, where appellants would be forced to plead their case in a public meeting before the board. Council members have said they prefer appeals to be decided by an administrative board.

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