Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2017

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NLV candidates at odds on city manager assessment

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William Robinson

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Shari Buck

North Las Vegas City Council members Shari Buck and William Robinson, who are competing for mayor, have vastly different views of City Manager Gregory Rose.

Buck says the biggest disagreement she’s had with Robinson in 10 years working together on the council is in assessing Rose’s recent performance.

Buck praised Rose’s role in handling cuts of more than $17 million from next year’s budget.

But at a City Council meeting this month, Robinson became frustrated with Rose’s inability to negotiate wage concessions with Teamsters Local 14, without which the city may have to lay off about 160 workers.

Robinson says he’s concerned the city did not plan ahead for weathering the bad economy.

“It could have been prevented,” he said about the city’s financial struggle. “There was a downturn and I think Ray Charles could have seen that.”

In October 2007 Robinson and City Councilman Robert Eliason opposed a new contract for Rose that runs through September 2011.

At the time many said the contract would ensure Rose didn’t feel political pressure during the mayoral race.

North Las Vegas has a history of ousting city managers.

Buck and Robinson voted to fire former City Manager Kurt Fritsch in 2003. The city paid him $127,000 in severance and he now manages McCook, Neb., a city with a population of about 8,000.

Rose, a former assistant city manager, was selected to fill the position. He was the fourth city manager in five years.

Both Buck and Robinson voted in favor of the hiring.

Rose earns about $200,000 annually.

• • •

The budget chopping in Henderson continued last week.

The most recent cuts included eliminating cost-of-living wage increases, matching contributions to nonunion employees’ retirement funds and $300 monthly car allowances given to more than 60 elected officials and high-level employees.

The city expects to save about $4 million annually from the cuts.

It was the fourth round of budget cuts in the past six months for Henderson.

The city employs about 350 nonunion workers, most of whom are supervisors. City officials said they are negotiating pay cuts with union representatives for the other 1,600 city employees.

The shortfall stems from falling sales and property tax revenue. The city has also lost revenue from decreased utility payments caused by foreclosures.

Henderson has cut more than $50 million from the current year’s budget by freezing hiring, offering buyouts to its most experienced employees and offering voluntary unpaid furloughs.

About 75 employees have taken the buyout offer. The city has also trimmed most department budgets by 10 percent.

• • •

Former Boulder City Council candidate Joe Roche is endorsing candidate Bill Smith in the June 2 election.

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Bill Smith

Roche finished fourth in the primary. He did not move on to the runoff because more than 50 percent of voters chose Duncan McCoy, earning him a council seat.

Because McCoy won a seat, only the next two vote-getters — Smith and Cam Walker — are in the runoff. Here’s the rub: McCoy won his seat by only eight votes.

If a recount showed eight fewer votes for McCoy, then Roche would be included on the general election ballot.

However, his chances seemed slim. Roche, a recycling consultant, received 977 votes, less than half of what McCoy and Walker received.

Roche was the subject of a series of automated phone calls that questioned his employment history and charitable involvement.

It was a learning experience for the 34-year-old.

“I think Boulder City is no longer the kind of small town where you can throw your hat in the ring and run for office,” he said. “You need to be working in advance and organizing a strong campaign.”

He said he may run for office again.

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