Las Vegas, North Las Vegas officials to look at consolidating services

Las Vegas and North Las Vegas officials will meet tonight to discuss consolidating certain city services, an undertaking that has long been discussed as a way to cut spending without cutting responsiveness.

A draft report outlines seven areas where services could be combined for efficiency, although the report notes that "the gains are not huge," a combined $4.2 million to $5.5 million per year.

Members of the Las Vegas and North Las Vegas city councils are to discuss the report at 4:30 p.m. today in the North Las Vegas Library, 2300 Civic Center Drive.

Officials across Nevada have had to slash budgets because of declining revenues, and that reality is "likely to persist for many years," the report states.

Some public services, such as the Metropolitan Police Department, libraries and the housing authority, already have been combined. Still, consolidation is not a panacea, the report warns: "When it comes to municipal services, bigger may sometimes be better, but not always and for some services increasing size may introduce inefficiencies."

That's why any consolidation, or "shared services," as North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck says, needs to take efficiency and customer service into account, not just money. For instance, some areas recommended for consolidation are services Las Vegas provides well; North Las Vegas is better at others. Both cities benefit by sharing those duties.

"It's not an equal opportunity savings to both sides," Buck said. "Even if something doesn't help North Las Vegas, it might help Las Vegas, and it's worth exploring."

Las Vegas officials were not available for comment.

The following areas were identified as having potential for consolidation:

■ Workers' compensation administration.

■ The Safekey before- and after-school program.

■ Purchasing.

■ Radio maintenance.

■ Detention center support services, such as food preparation, laundry and medical care.

■ Fire plans check and fire code enforcement.

■ Maintenance of traffic signals, street lights and other lighting.

Las Vegas could save $2.3 million to $3 million annually using the recommendations, and North Las Vegas could save $1.9 million to $2.5 million, according to the study.

Savings would come from lowering administrative or management costs or by using economies of scale, such as with purchasing.