Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007 | 6:59 a.m.
With 15.7 percent of the public employees in the Las Vegas Valley making more than $100,000, and much of that money coming from overtime, government officials want a review.
Responding to a story Sunday in the Las Vegas Sun by Mike Trask and Jeff German revealing this troubling trend, Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine said Tuesday she would review the county's overtime policies. Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tempore Gary Reese and City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian want a review of overtime pay in the city.
Government officials have told the Sun that paying overtime is often less expensive than hiring another person, but given the amount of overtime paid - for example, the Clark County Fire Department spent $14.4 million in overtime last fiscal year - that is questionable.
"Somebody has made the judgment that we should pay overtime instead of hiring additional people," said Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, who asked for the review. "I want to make sure it's the right judgment."
As we have said before, we do not begrudge a fair wage or necessary overtime. It is an issue of using taxpayer dollars wisely.
Former Clark County Manager Thom Reilly said the state's spending is out of synch with the rest of the country and noted that Clark County government employees are well paid.
"We're at the top of the nation in salaries and at the bottom of the nation in the amount of employees serving the public," Reilly said. "The role of government is to provide services - not necessarily to have the best salaries in the nation."
Reilly is correct. Given that Nevada trails the nation in many quality-of-life indicators, it seems to us that the answer should be simple: Cut down on overtime and hire more people - especially police officers, firefighters and corrections officers - who can serve the public.