Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 | 1:47 p.m.
North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee’s annual State of the City address on Tuesday included many of the usual elements of such a speech — a rundown of private and public projects, an optimistic look at the future and a recounting of the city’s recovery from near bankruptcy during the recession.
One thing missing from this year’s event, though, was high drama. Lee’s speech last year came on the heels of a high-level staffing shakeup at City Hall, and two years ago, he faced questions afterward about reports that carmaker Faraday Future was sinking and taking its proposed North Las Vegas manufacturing plant with it.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on in the city, though. Here are some key points of Lee’s speech, which he presented to a capacity crowd at Texas Station:
• Nellis Air Force Base is growing. Lee said two new air wings would be added to the base over the next 10 years, adding 8,000 jobs and doubling the base’s size.
• According to Lee, North Las Vegas has moved past Reno and is now the third-largest city in Nevada. The population surpassed 250,000 in 2018, he said.
• Infrastructure projects are going bonkers. The city underwent $800 million in infrastructure upgrades last year, Lee said. Public projects included new schools, roads, and water and sewer lines. On the private side, NV Energy invested $14 million in upgrading electric infrastructure, and Cox Communications and CenturyLink spent a combined $46 million on internet connectivity and communications improvements.
•Lee said that thanks to a 2018 bond restructuring, the city’s credit “is now investment grade for the first time since 2012.” The restructure will save city taxpayers $40 million in interest over the next 18 years, he said.
• City government will be expanded. Lee said bringing on additional city staff will be the “most important thing” that North Las Vegas will do in the next five years.
He didn’t offer details, but Lee’s ongoing emphasis on streamlining building permitting and other bureaucratic processes to spur economic development would suggest that personnel will be brought on for that purpose.
Public safety would appear to be another area ripe for expansion. The city’s population growth puts additional strain on public safety departments. Lee noted that 20 positions were added to the North Las Vegas Fire Department last year.
• Speaking of permitting, construction on Amazon’s 2.4 million-square-foot logistics center is underway after North Las Vegas approved permitting for the project in 28 days. Lee said it was the fastest turnaround for any Amazon project of its size.