Thursday, July 21, 2011 | 3:55 p.m.
Mayor Shari Buck stresses that North Las Vegas is not at risk of being taken over by the state, but she admits the city will have a difficult time figuring out its finances for the next two years.
Buck spoke to a full house at a special meeting of the North Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday.
Among those attending were officials from the Nevada Department of Taxation to discuss the city’s financial situation.
Buck struck a conciliatory tone.
“I’m asking our staff and I’m asking our citizens, it’s time to put this finger-pointing away,” Buck said. “We need to come together as a community."
Terry Rubald, chief of the taxation department’s Division of Assessment Standards, presented an overview of the emergency financial assistance options the city has in case the budget situation further deteriorates.
“We begin with one or more in-depth reviews to identify specific problems,” Rubald said.
The city’s financial woes stem from a $30.3 million budget shortfall for next year. The original budget planned to lay off more than 200 city employees before deals were reached with unions for concessions. The firefighters' unions made a deal this week to cut 35 jobs to save the city $2 million on top of the $4 million in concessions they made in May. The police are currently in negotiations with the city.
Under the taxation department, the city can fall under two assistance plans, the technical financial assistance and a severe financial emergency. Under technical financial assistance, the state will design an action plan, which the city can choose to implement. If a severe financial emergency occurs, the state will essentially run all the financial operations of North Las Vegas.
“A severe financial emergency can happen at any time,” Rubald said. “We always encourage technical financial assistance first. I would like to emphasis that our first step is to ask for information and an action plan from the city.”
North Las Vegas residents were unhappy to hear that the city was considering help from the state. Many voiced concerns that the council was not doing enough to inform the public, including making sure residents were aware of meeting dates and times.
Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick D-North Las Vegas told council members she understood what kind of pressure they were under but urged them for more transparency in financial issues. The council agreed, saying it would try to do a better job of informing citizens.
The council is scheduled to make a presentation about the city's budget condition to the state in early August.