Clark County to lay off about 100


Clark County is laying off about 100 full-time employees to help balance a $47 million shortfall brought on by a drop in tax revenue in the prolonged recession.

The county released a report Tuesday outlining 233 job cuts that will save $27.8 million in the general operating fund.

Affected employees will be notified by June 18 and will work their last shift no later than July 6.

The report lists 108 full-time employees who will lose their jobs. Eighty-seven are paid with money from the general operating fund, and 21 are in departments funded through user fees.

"It's sad, but at the same time it's inevitable," County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said. "That's a lot of people, a lot of lives, a lot of families."

There is still a $19 million gap that must be closed by employee unions making concessions on their pay and benefits, Sisolak said. If they refuse to make concessions, more workers will be laid off, he added.

It's unclear exactly how many employees will get pink slips because at least three will be demoted instead of laid off.

County Manager Virginia Valentine said she didn't have an exact number of demotions but estimated there will be no more than 10.

The county also will lay off 50 part-time workers and leave an additional 100 jobs vacant. Roughly 850 county jobs now will go unfilled.

When these latest layoffs occur, 285 county workers will have lost their jobs in the past year, including 60 from University Medical Center.

Officials from the Service Employees International Union Local 1107 couldn't be reached for comment. The union, which represents about 9,500 county workers, is preparing to negotiate parts of its labor contract.

In April, Valentine asked department heads to reduce staffing and gave them an 8 percent target. The report shows the job cuts ranging from 4.9 percent to 12 percent.

"We never said we were going to do across-the-board cuts," Valentine said. "The circumstances in each of the departments vary."

For instance, the public defender's office needs a certain staffing level to meet state standards, she said.

Real property management will take the biggest hit. It will lose 20 full-time employees and four part-time workers, plus 15 jobs will be left vacant. It's among the departments whose staff swelled during the development boom and no longer has enough work in the weak real estate market to justify its staffing, officials say.

Next in line are the commission and county manager's offices, which will lay off 14 full-time employees and 14 part-time staffers.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she was briefed about the report Tuesday afternoon.

"It's not as bad as I thought it would be," she said.

Giunchigliani questioned why the assessor's office was laying off 11 employees -- an 8.2 percent staffing cut -- at a time when a record number of people were appealing their assessed property values.

County managers told her the treasurer is the one who's really busy, she said.

Assessor Mark Schofield couldn't be reached for comment.

The county firefighters union, which is negotiating a contract renewal, is losing three full-time workers, but not to layoffs. The employees are being demoted to jobs on a relief staff to fill in for absent co-workers in an effort to reduce overtime.

The relief staffers will be paid straight time instead of time and a half while substituting for absent colleagues.

Last month, commissioners approved a $1.26 billion general operating budget that called for no reductions in staffing, wages or benefits. The shortfall, then listed as $57 million, was filled by pulling money from a capital-projects fund and its general fund reserve.

County officials say the reserve must be at a certain level to cover unforeseen expenses.

Valentine said the county made a temporary fix so it could submit a balanced budget to the state by the June 1 deadline.

"We have to have layoffs and we have to have concessions," she said.

Commissioner Rory Reid called the layoffs a good start and said labor costs must be snipped even more. The county can't function with its general fund reserve so "dangerously low," he said.

"I don't think it gets us all the way there," Reid said. "There's more to do."

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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