Las Vegas Sun

February 25, 2024

North Las Vegas mayor rallies entire valley to help his city overcome challenges

NLV State of the City Address 2014

Steve Marcus

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee gives the North Las Vegas State of the City Address at Aliante on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in North Las Vegas.

North Las Vegas State of the City 2014

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee gives the North Las Vegas State of the City Address on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, at Aliante in North Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

North Las Vegas is in a fight for its future.

After years of taking punches from the recession, the city has been pushed to the brink of knockout. Housing foreclosures depleted its tax base, city services were cut to bare-bones levels and major budget deficits forced it to declare two unprecedented financial emergencies.

It has all led to the city’s current situation, facing a multimillion-dollar structural deficit that threatens to knock it into bankruptcy by the end of the year.

But Mayor John Lee isn’t ready to give up yet. Today, during his first State of the City address, Lee set aside the past and focused on his plan for the city’s future.

“Today we begin the fight for the future of our city and for our entire region,” Lee said in his speech at Aliante Casino. “All roads of regional success run through North Las Vegas.”

The event opened with a scene from the underdog movie “Rudy,” and a speech from the film’s subject Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger about overcoming adversity; painting the picture of North Las Vegas as the “Rudy” of Nevada.

Lee discussed his own bout with adversity, surviving stage 4 cancer. He said the experience had equipped him to help the city overcome its economic struggles.

He dismissed the idea of a state takeover, painting a picture of plummeting bond ratings and economic ruin for the entire state if its third largest city goes bankrupt. Instead, his speech focused on a new North Las Vegas.

“We have ended the days of North Las Vegas bumbling along from one financial crisis to the next without a clearly defined vision for the city,” Lee said.

He stressed a need for old city and county limits and perceptions to be tossed aside in favor of a unified Las Vegas Valley. He touted the city’s relationship with Las Vegas to share resources and save money, and he said weekly meetings between mayors have created strategies to lure new businesses.

“We need to recognize that only a unified region can address the threats we face, and we are only as strong as our weakest link,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Lee discussed ways for the city to better utilize its current resources, from Nellis Air Force Base to the Veterans Affairs Hospital to North Las Vegas’ unused land.

Proposals to expand the North Vista Hospital, develop real estate south of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and dedicating space next the VA Hospital for medical enterprises all combine to help the city develop a diverse business base.

He hopes it will help businesses realize the city offers a welcome atmosphere for businesses. Despite North Las Vegas’ struggles, its vast landholdings could make it Nevada’s “Silicon Valley.”

The city also has developed a plan to generate revenues and increase efficiencies. The plan will be put into effect at the end of the month.

“There is no silver-bullet solution to the multitude of challenges facing our city,” Lee said. “Progress does not ride on the coattails of lingering problems, only solutions and action will protect our city’s future.”

Lee knows the road to recovery is a long one. The city – its revenues devastated by the Great Recession – has dug itself into a major financial hole in the past six years, but Lee isn’t ready to give up yet. He believes the city has the resources to overcome its financial fight.

“A valley united can be our path to prosperity,” Lee said. “Now let’s go to work.”

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