Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 | 1:50 a.m.
When Boulder City’s manager proposes a second phase of budget cuts next week, the public information office and its television station are among the items expected to be on the chopping block, the city’s public information officer said Thursday.
City spokeswoman Rose Ann Miele told the Sun she met Tuesday with City Manager Vicki Mayes, who told Miele that her position and BCTV, the city’s television channel, would be proposed as possible cuts to solve Boulder City’s budget crisis. Mayes will present the proposed cuts at the Oct. 12 city council meeting.
Boulder City is trying to fill about a $3 million hole in its $22.7 million general budget for the 2011 fiscal year. The city budgeted for lease payments from SolBio, an energy firm that planned to build a solar panel facility in Eldorado Valley, but the company, which has previously cited financial troubles, has yet to make a payment.
In August, Mayes outlined three phases of cuts to address the problem; this second phase was supposed to include what Mayes described as “non-essential services.”
In a phone interview Friday, Mayes confirmed Miele’s position would be presented as one of the possibilities for cuts. Other options for the city council, which will vote on Mayes’s proposals next week, include suspending activities at the city’s youth center, closing the swimming pool and reducing part-time staff at the art center.
The city needs to save $450,000 in the second phase, Mayes said. She estimated that freezes on capital spending and hiring, the first phase of cuts, in September saved about $325,000.
“I’m not happy with proposing any of these cuts,” Mayes said, “but it’s something that needs to done.”
The public information officer is a full-time employee with a salary of about $75,000, according to city records. According to the city’s latest budget information, BCTV, which airs city council meetings, costs about $100,000 to operate annually.
Miele, who has been in her position for 10 years, said she has been told on four previous occasions that her job may be in jeopardy.
“I’m not angry. I’m not upset. I am a little bit off my game,” said Miele, who prepares and distributes press releases to the public, handles public records requests and operates BCTV. “I like to give 125 percent all the time, but I only feel like 98 percent right now, and it doesn’t feel good.”
Miele, who had expected to retire in June, said she “would be fine” if the city council approved Mayes’s proposal.
Despite her good-natured response to the situation, Miele admitted it would be “a little unnerving” to listen to the city council debate whether or not to keep her office at next Tuesday’s meeting.
“I have to be here, and I have to do all my jobs, not knowing if I’ll have a job next week or not,” she said.
She said not everyone views the public information office as an essential service.
“For some people, it is; for some people, it isn’t,” said Miele, who worked at the Boulder City Hospital Foundation and the now-shuttered Boulder City News before coming to City Hall.
The Boulder City News was owned by Greenspun Media Group, which also owns the Las Vegas Sun.
Miele posed several rhetorical questions during the interview, wondering why some of the city’s highest-paid employees such as Mayes, who will make about $175,000 this year, hadn’t been considered for salary cuts or why Mayes hadn’t approached the city’s employee union about taking a cut in tough times, as the city of Las Vegas has recently done.
Mayes replied that the city has already taken some of those actions. The city’s department heads haven't had a wage increase in three years, Mayes said, and the police department, for example, declined its yearly pay raise in June.
If Boulder City receives no assurances on the lease payment by Nov. 1, Mayes has previously told the Sun that further layoffs of full-time employees would be necessary.