Las Vegas Sun

March 21, 2019

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New fire station a healthy sign for Henderson’s finances

Henderson’s first new fire station in 15 years tops the list of highlights of the city’s $541 million tentative 2018 budget, which officials released earlier this week.

Other highlights include 56 new positions and revenue projections that suggest Nevada’s second-largest city is continuing to recover from the Great Recession, though it has yet to get back to pre-recession peaks in many areas.

Of the new positions proposed in the tentative budget, 30 are police officers. The majority — 25 — will be funded through the 2016 Crime Prevention Act, which the Nevada Legislature and Clark County Commission passed last fall to raise the county sales tax by one-tenth percent in order to hire additional police officers across all municipalities. The remaining five would be paid for through the general fund.

Nine new positions would staff the new fire station in the growing master-planned community Inspirada, which when fully developed will have approximately 8,000 homes. According to Henderson Finance Director Jim McIntosh, dedicating nine positions was a compromise reached between the city and the fire department, which originally requested a dozen.

Upon hearing this during a presentation of the budget, Mayor Hafen and several city council members urged McIntosh to revisit the budget and find funding for those additional three positions, stressing the importance of putting public safety first.

The fire station is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in October. It will be the first fire station Henderson has built since 2002.

Approximately 58 percent of the $252 million in general fund expenditures are related to public safety.

Henderson has seen a 15 percent increase in population since 2010, yet city spending levels for 2018 are still below 2010 levels. In 2010, expenditures reached $547.9 million for 264,683 residents. The projected expenditures for 2018 are $541.5 million for 304,862 residents.

“We’ve been great at doing more with less,” says McIntosh.

Henderson has 6.5 full-time employees for every thousand residents — a lower ratio than almost any other city in Southern Nevada. Only North Las Vegas is lower — at 4.2 full-time employees for every thousand residents. Las Vegas and Boulder City are higher at 9 and 9.5 full-time employees per thousand residents, respectively.

McIntosh says the city is proud of that, as well of the fact that Henderson has the lowest property tax rate of any major city in Nevada.

Henderson expects to bring in $67.3 million in property taxes for fiscal year 2018, which spans from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. That’s a 4.9 percent increase over the current fiscal year and matches the amount brought in for 2011. Still, it is noticeably below the 2009 peak of $83.4 million.

Meanwhile, consolidated tax is projected to bring in $107.8 million — a 5 percent increase over the current fiscal year. That amount is already above pre-recession levels.

McIntosh says the bottom line is that Henderson is recovering well, but “not out of the woods.” More specifically, the city still needs to play catchup on certain infrastructure and capital projects.

The City Council will present a finalized budget at its meeting on May 16 at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to weigh in during public comment at that meeting or beforehand by contacting their councilperson. The entire budget, as well as an overview presentation, are available on Henderson’s website.