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NLV Council votes to close recreation centers, lay off 21 employees

Mayor confident closures can be averted

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011 | 9:05 p.m.

NLV Council votes to close recreation centers

KSNV coverage of the North Las Vegas Council vote to close city recreation centers, Aug. 17, 2011.

The North Las Vegas City Council voted Wednesday to close the city’s recreation centers indefinitely and lay off 21 full-time employees.

But Mayor Shari Buck said she is confident the city will find the money to keep the centers open.

The 3-2 vote — council members Anita Wood and Robert Eliason voted against the cuts — was made as the city struggles to close a $4.4 million budget gap.

Acting City Manager Maryann Ustick said the cuts were the most difficult recommendations she has had to make.

Recreation centers could close as early as Oct. 1, if the city does not come to an agreement with the North Las Vegas police and police supervisors unions. Buck promised that the council would find the money for the recreation centers by October.

“We are very close to reaching agreements with our two police unions. And that will help us a lot. But today we have to make a decision and we have a commitment to the state,” she said.

The cuts include laying off 21 full-time employees to save the city $2.1 million, closing all recreation centers to save about $500,000, and eliminating five vacant full-time positions in the police department.

Special event programs would also be discontinued.

Monica James, an eight-year resident who uses the senior citizen services, told the council she was disappointed that the unions seemed to be in control.

“We have to have a place to go. We’re not unionized,” said James. “North Las Vegas would rather pay higher salaries to fire, police and Teamsters than to their residents.”

The city must issue layoff notices by the week of Aug. 29. The approved layouts would bring the number to 158 this year.

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