Las Vegas Sun

December 9, 2018

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Boulder City eliminates public information office, makes other cuts

BC Cuts

Dylan Scott

Boulder City Council members listen to the public’s comments during its discussion of budget cuts at Tuesday’s meeting. The council voted to close the public information office and reduce hours of operation at the animal shelter and the swimming pool as a means of solving its current budget crisis. From right: Mayor Roger Tobler, Duncan McCoy, Travis Chandler, Linda Strickland, Cam Walker.

Boulder City Council voted to close its public information office and reduce hours of operation at the animal shelter and swimming pool as a means of solving its pending budget crisis at Tuesday’s council meeting.

As a result, city spokeswoman Rose Miele will be laid off. City council meetings will still air on broadcast television and online on BCTV, according to the plan proposed by City Manager Vicki Mayes and approved by the council unanimously.

Miele, who has worked at City Hall for 10 years, will leave her post Nov. 17. She had expected to retire next June. The position had an annual salary of $75,000. The city manager’s office will distribute press releases and handle other functions of the public information office.

Councilman Cam Walker suggested the city find a part-time “BCTV coordinator” to film city council meetings.

Changes at other city facilities will go into effect the same day, including operational changes at the municipal pool, animal shelter and city golf courses.

Mayes estimated savings of $350,000 and $450,000 would offset part of the $3 million in missing payments from SolBio, an energy firm that planned to build a solar panel plant in the Eldorado Valley.

Mayes outlined three phases of budget cuts in August as it became clear that the company would be unable to pay its lease.

On Tuesday, Mayes reported that she is “not optimistic” about SolBio making a payment. If the company fails to pay its bill, Mayes said Boulder City would have to move forward with more full-time employee layoffs in November.

The city sent a letter last week to the company’s president, David Irwin, finding SolBio in default of its payment, Mayes said. The company has 30 days to respond.

Members of the public implored the city council to keep both the youth center and the art center, which could have been closed, open and council members expressed a dedication to doing so.

Some asked for the city to consider pay cuts for its highest-paid employees such as Mayes, who makes $175,000 a year.

Mayor Roger Tobler thanked Miele for her service, but acknowledged that the council’s hand was largely forced by the circumstances.

The swimming pool will be open 25 hours a week, allowing classes to be offered and the high school to use it for practice. Savings should total about $80,000, Mayes said.

The animal shelter will be open five days a week, instead of six, and there will be reduced response to animal control calls to save about $33,000.

Reduced maintenance at the city’s two golf courses will save $100,000. The city will also hold a secretary position open, saving $30,000, and reduce additional duty pay for police officers to save $20,000.

In total, Boulder City will save about $350,000 based on Mayes’s estimates. Freezes on capital spending and hiring already saved $325,000, she said, which was the first phase of cuts implemented in September.

Councilwoman Linda Strickland made a motion, which Councilman Travis Chandler seconded, to cut $39,000 in car allowances. Walker, Tobler and Councilman Duncan McCoy voted against it.

Tobler did leave open the possibility of cutting car allowances in the third phase of cuts.

Strickland and Chandler also supported a motion to eliminate a deputy city clerk position, which Mayes plans to fill soon, which would save $52,000. Walker, Tobler and McCoy opposed.

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