City workers in Las Vegas could be getting bonuses soon, the result of a new "gainsharing" program city officials hope will become a bigger part of employee compensation.
In a message to employees, city manager Betsy Fretwell said workers will get $549 each as a one-time reward "to all employees who have shared in the many extensive sacrifices that have been made during the past several years of this economic downturn."
Fretwell said it will be up to city employee unions to decide whether workers covered by collective bargaining contracts will receive checks.
If they decline, the money would remain with the city and could be used for other purposes. Nonunion employees would still receive checks if unions declined on behalf of their workers. The money probably would be paid in the second pay period in September, Fretwell said. Unions have until early next week to decide whether to participate, she said.
Lori Giessinger, president of the Las Vegas City Employees Association, did not return calls for comment.
Dean Fletcher, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 1285 said in an email he had no comment because gainsharing is among subjects at issue in a contract negotiating impasse between the city and the union.
The approximately $1.3 million set aside for gainsharing would come from the city's general fund reserve account, which was projected to be about $83.5 million in the 2013 budget.
It's an attempt to introduce a broader pay-for-performance element into the city's compensation structure, something Fretwell has championed with support from the City Council.
"As currently envisioned, gainsharing will be a policy whereby if city General Fund revenues exceed expenses, a percentage of that excess would be set aside annually in a pool to compensate employees," she wrote in her note to employees. "In simplest terms, it would be similar to profit sharing in the private sector."
One benefit for the city is that, unlike regular raises, bonuses are one-time in nature and can be tied to specific performance goals, she said.
Before the program can be widely implemented, it would need approval from unions that represent the bulk of the city's approximately 2,600 employees. Firefighters are negotiating a new two-year contract. City Employees Association members will not have a new contract until 2014, Fretwell said.
She said an incentive structure already is in place for directors. But the program wasn't funded as the city budget declined with the economy.
"Our employees have been sacrificing for several years. This is a way to be able to say thank you. They have done a really good job of tightening their belts and delivering high-quality services."
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285 .