Sunday, March 28, 2010 | 2 a.m.
- With Tea Party in town, Harry Reid helps open shooting park (3-27-2010)
- Clark County Shooting Park opens (12-19-2009)
Beyond the Sun
Clark County Shooting Park
This weekend, Clark County once again — or is it again, again and again? — held a ceremony to mark the opening of its $61 million shooting park.
Was that repetition — “again, again and again” — deliberate?
Yes, it was deliberate. There have been several openings of this park, in fact three in seven months.
On Aug. 25, the county held a shooting park “Completion Dedication.” On Dec. 19, the “Partial Opening” took place. Then the park’s “Full Opening” occurred Feb. 3.
None, however, featured the fanfare of Saturday’s “Grand Opening,” which included politicians and dignitaries who were there to shoot guns, pose with guns and otherwise express their love for firearms.
This was the second trip to the park for Sen. Harry Reid. Rep. Dina Titus made her first appearance. Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, made his second trip after attending the August dedication.
Hate to be a buzzkill, but how much have these blessed events cost county taxpayers?
Jennifer Knight, county spokeswoman, says the three previous gatherings cost taxpayers nothing. Saturday’s grand opening cost the county $2,000 to $3,000.
Has the park attracted many visitors?
It has been quite busy so far.
Since Dec. 19, the park has collected $117,000, Knight says. During that time, it spent $302,564.
Revenue comes from a $7 daily fee, locker rentals and other fees. The park averages about 200 customers per weekday and up to 500 per day on weekends, she says.
“At the beginning of any operation, there are always one-time operating costs that are necessary,” Knight says. “We are encouraged by the numbers of people we are seeing so far, despite the fact that it was opened part time for almost two months. Our business plan calls for the park to make a profit after three years, which we are on track for.”
Knight says the pistol-rifle range collected $70,730. The shotgun range took in $42,714. And park office sales collected $3,633.
For some county employees laid off last year, or those who fear they might be in the next two months, an important hearing took place two weeks ago at the Employee-Management Relations Board’s office.
Depending on a yet-to-be-made decision, that hearing could result in the county being forced to make those laid-off employees “whole,” meaning the county might have to rehire them.
Why would those former employees have to be rehired?
In October, Service Employees International Union filed a complaint against Clark County, saying it violated the union’s contract by laying off or demoting 11 workers who should have been retained because of seniority. The allegations say the county used the layoffs to target workers it wanted to fire.
The conflict boils down to interpreting the contract and how the layoffs were carried out, said Andy Anderson, employment commissioner.
In general terms, layoffs of union employees occur on a “last-hired, first-fired” basis — the newest employees are the first to go. But years ago, a provision was added allowing the county to exempt up to 8 percent of employees who would otherwise be laid off if the county can show they are crucial to operations.
When the county laid off 24 employees in May, it used the 8 percent allowance to keep some workers with less seniority.
In its complaint, SEIU alleges the county failed to show those employees had “critical and necessary skills.”
Is a decision expected soon?
Anderson said he has expedited the process, but it will still take months to complete. It has been five months since the complaint was filed, but the hearings aren’t over yet.
September is the earliest a decision is likely to be rendered.
Why did Anderson speed up the process?
For the simple reason that the board’s decision is crucial to county operations, and could avoid further litigation.
Since the layoffs last summer, the county has had two more rounds of layoffs, in January and February. Because the county is facing unprecedented budget deficits, another round is expected in April or May.
If the board decides that the county’s system for layoffs is flawed, more hearings would likely be required to sort out other rounds of layoffs. So, Anderson said, he wanted to get this done as soon as possible so those questions can be answered.