City Council may see pay cut


Because of a budget deficit, city of Las Vegas employees have been asked to take a pay cut over the next two years, and City Council members might share some of that pain.

A measure reducing City Council salaries is in the works, although what form it will take -- or even if it will be mandatory -- still has to be decided.

Complicating matters is that all City Council members aren't paid the same. Raises approved in 2007 have taken effect for three council members (although at least one of them didn't accept it) but don't kick in for the other three or the mayor's job until after the 2011 elections.

"We are doing a review of the entire package," said Councilman Steve Wolfson. "I will sponsor something if we are treated the same as all our city employees. I will support, as a whole, the 10th floor making the same or similar concessions as other city employees."

The 10th floor of City Hall is where the offices of council members and the mayor are located.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, meanwhile, said council members might choose whether or not to take a cut.

"We may have a situation where it will be a voluntary program," he said. "We're going to do what's right on a voluntary basis."

In 2007, the council approved raising salaries for council members and the mayor, with the raises taking effect after the next election for the position. Pay was set at 90 percent of a Clark County commissioner's salary. The new council salary is $69,238 a year, according to city records.

Elections took place last year in Wards 2, 4 and 6. Wolfson and Councilman Steve Ross were re-elected, and Councilman Stavros Anthony won a contest for an open seat.

Wolfson said he returns the difference between his new salary and the old one, minus taxes. The old salary is $48,548.

Anthony is being paid the new salary.

"I came in, that was the salary, and I'm obviously willing to cut my salary commensurate with every other city employee," he said.

Ross could not be reached for comment. When the raises were originally proposed, he joined Wolfson in saying he would not accept the raise if re-elected.

Before the raises were adopted, council salaries were raised only for the cost of living since 1986.

Council and mayor positions are part time, meaning those elected can have outside employment, although all say the council job requires full-time hours.

The next mayor, to be elected in 2011, will be full time with no outside job allowed. The salary for that person was set at 180 percent of a City Council salary. While that amount hasn't been determined, it will be six figures, most likely more than $120,000 a year.

The mayor is now paid $63,780.

Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said Las Vegas' elected leaders don't have a choice when it comes to reducing their salaries. The city has asked its unionized work force to take 8 percent cuts in each of the next two fiscal years -- those talks are pending -- and the nonunion employees already have agreed to that cut, provided the unions concede something close to it.

"We have to do it," Tarkanian said. "If everybody else is doing it, we have to do it too. We have to be a team."

Tarkanian is still being paid the old salary. She plans to run for re-election next year and said the economy will determine whether she accepts the raise, should she win.

"I don't know if it's a good thing to take it now," she said. "I would not accept it if we are in this economic condition. Hopefully, we'll be coming out of it."

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

 

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