Published Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 | 4:42 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 | 6:30 p.m.
Embattled North Las Vegas City Manager Tim Hacker resigned today, ending a nearly two-year stint with the city that was defined by financial crises, the city announced.
“City Manager Hacker has played a critical role in a very difficult chapter in our city's history, and we thank him for his service as we turn the page to a new chapter in our community's future,” Mayor John Lee said in a statement. “Mr. Hacker’s leadership has been crucial to stabilizing and turning our town around by putting us in a positive direction toward a promising future.”
City attorney Jeff Barr, who Hacker hired, also resigned today, Lee said. Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan will be interim city manager, and deputy city attorney Sandra Morgan will take over as interim city attorney. Lee said he has not yet established a timetable to replace the positions.
“I want the interim persons to meet the city council members and get to know them,” Lee said. “I want to make sure there’s buy-in for them, too.”
Hacker was hired in September 2011, after several key employees, including the city attorney and acting city manager, left the city.
He was the only candidate considered and received a $180,000 annual salary, plus benefits.
Before coming to North Las Vegas, Hacker was city manager in Mesquite from February 2006 until he was fired in May 2009. He also worked in the Midwest as a city manager in Kewanee, Ill., and as a city administrator and senior planner.
His experience in small towns was derided by officials with the city’s unions, who butted heads with Hacker throughout his tenure.
The tense relationship reached its nadir in mid-2012 when the council declared a fiscal emergency, allowing the city to break union contracts and force concessions. The action was repeated earlier this summer and is the subject of ongoing litigation.
Hacker maintained the unions couldn’t expect to keep operating under unsustainable contracts agreed to during better economic times.
After closing the city’s detention center, eliminating office positions and shortening library hours in 2012, Hacker said the only place left to find cuts was in employee wages and benefits, which he estimated accounted for about 80 to 85 percent of the city’s general fund.
“One thing we cannot afford to do is keep moving the target down the road,” Hacker said in April.
But leaders from several North Las Vegas employee unions said they didn’t buy city management’s budget math and accused the city of being misleading about the state of its finances.
Leonard Cardinale, North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association president, Jeff Hurley, North Las Vegas Firefighters Association president, and North Las Vegas Police Officers Association President Mike Yarter emphasized their members already had made repeated concessions in the past years, forgoing raises and benefits in previous attempts at solving the city’s budget woes. The 2012 tally alone, Yarter said, amounted to $9.5 million from union workers.
In June, the Police Supervisors Union voted unanimously to voice no confidence in Hacker. Cardinale said Hacker’s leaving would improve their relationship with the city “immensely.”
“This is absolutely good news for the citizens, police department, and for the city as we move forward,” Cardinale said. “We are hoping the city can find someone more reasonable than Tim Hacker, and that we can find some common ground there.”
The battle between the unions and the city continued, and cuts in city services was a major theme during this spring’s mayoral campaign. In April, the woman who hired Hacker, incumbent Mayor Buck, was ousted in a challenge by Lee, who campaigned with backing from the city’s unions. Lee took office in June.
In an interview shortly after being hired, Hacker told the Sun he was in North Las Vegas for the long haul.
“I want to stay in the community as long as I possibly can and as long as I am effective. I’m going to stay committed.”