Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2017

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Henderson mayoral candidates talk budget cuts at forum

Staff recommendations, wasteful contracts, business license fees, employee salaries, parks and recreation.

That's where Henderson mayoral candidates Amanda Cyphers, Steve Kirk, Mike Mayberry, Andy Hafen and Richard Sipan, respectively, said they'd look for the fat should further budget cuts be needed at the city.

Two days after the City Council approved a second round of major budget cuts, the candidates faced that question Thursday at a forum hosted by the Henderson Chamber of Commerce at the Wild Horse Golf Club, the last public event before early voting begins Saturday.

Sipan, an attorney who is the only candidate with no formal past with the City of Henderson, bluntly stated that he would build fewer parks.

"The money's free to build (parks)," he said in reference to the federal funds that build most Henderson parks and trails, "but you still have to spend money to maintain and staff them."

Other candidates said they would look elsewhere for cuts.

"To cut one specific thing, I can't say I can think of one," said Cyphers, a former City Council member. "I know that the city and budget staff are working hard to find ways to save money."

Kirk, who sits on the council, said most city programs are self-funded, so it would be difficult to single out one that would save the city a sizable sum. But the city can still consolidate contracts held with multiple vendors for items such as copy equipment and cell phone service to save hundreds of thousands a year, he said.

"There are things we can look deep into each department and find," he said. "I think it's important that we delve deeper and find more places to cut."

Mayberry, a former city police chief, said the city should save money by streamlining the business licensing department.

"We need to be better at serving you," he told the audience.

Hafen, who also sits on the council, echoed Kirk's statement that the city doesn't have a lot of expensive programs. However, he said, 70 percent of its general fund goes to employee salaries, and that expense might need to be scrutinized.

"If you want to make significant cuts, that's something we're going to have to look into," Hafen said.

The budget question was one of several challenging queries from Sun columnist Jon Ralston, who moderated the event, and audience members.

Ralston got an audible response from the crowd when he asked the Council veterans what one thing they wish they had done differently and the other two candidates for one thing the Council did wrong in their eyes.

For Hafen, it was not being a more vocal advocate in defense of Pepcon after the 1988 plant disaster, which he said contributed to the company leaving town and taking its jobs with it.

Kirk said he wished he could have his vote back for approving the Crystal Ridge development that is going into Henderson's southern foothills; Cyphers said she regretted a police chief appointment she ratified (not Mayberry, she added as she sat down).

Mayberry said he was annoyed by the city's poor planning on Eastern Avenue as it goes into Anthem, while Sipan said he was upset at a zoning decision to increase density in his neighborhood that ultimately caused him and his family to move.

Early voting for the primary election begins March 21 and continues through April 3 at two permanent sites: Henderson City Hall, 240 S. Water St., and the Galleria at Sunset mall, 1300 W. Sunset Road. Several temporary sites also will be available during early voting. A complete list is available on the city's Web site at

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