More budget cuts looming for North Las Vegas


Buckle up, North Las Vegas, you're in for another bumpy ride.

The city, facing a $22.6 million shortfall in fiscal 2012, is about to embark on yet another "budget reduction plan" that could include scores of layoffs.

"I don't think we're going to be able to cut our way out of this," Councilman Richard Cherchio said Thursday during a budget workshop at City Hall. "There's too much of a deficit."

The city also must trim $2.3 million from this year's budget. The 2011 fiscal year ends June 30.

Lagging property tax and other revenues created the shortfalls, city officials said. The city's property tax revenue fell by 6 percent from last year.

The city has asked employee unions to sit for more contract concessions talks, though an official with its largest union, Teamsters Local 14, said Thursday he doubts his members will give up any more.

"We've stepped up to the plate," said Steve Harney, vice president of the Teamsters. "We were the first to step up. No matter what we give, it's not going to be enough. We have families, too."

The Teamsters in November agreed to concessions, valued at $17.7 million, that included suspending cost-of-living raises for 2012. The concessions saved 144 jobs.

The city's police union in December agreed to $3.65 million in concessions, including suspending cost-of-living raises for 2012, that saved the jobs of 11 police officers.

An agreement with the city's firefighters union for $3 million in concessions was put on hold so the city could audit Fire Department personnel's use of sick leave and overtime to ensure neither is being abused. That audit should be complete next week.

Cherchio said all the unions need to work with the city, and all must accept sacrifices.

"I'm getting a sense that we've got individual, very territorial, things going on," he said. "When the city goes down, we all go down together."

Mayor Shari Buck suggested the city sue the state for more revenue.

City officials have long argued that North Las Vegas doesn't receive its fair share of consolidated tax revenues, which are distributed by the state. City officials this year asked the Legislature to determine the fairness of the state's tax distribution formula, but the mayor said a study won't accomplish anything.

"I'm honestly sick and tired of the citizens of North Las Vegas paying the price for an unfair formula," she said. "I think we need to get tough and sue."

City officials must bridge the shortfalls to reach a targeted 6 percent ending fund balance.

The city's ending fund balance now stands at 4.4 percent, which is "dangerously close" to the 4.1 percent that would trigger state intervention, said Al Noyola, acting director of administrative services and finance.

City administrators will develop a budget reduction plan over the next few weeks. Layoffs could begin by late June.

The city has undergone several rounds of budget cuts since late 2008. In June, 188 workers were laid off.

Another 44 -- all North Las Vegas Detention Center workers -- were let go in October after the detention center lost about a third of its inmates, and millions of dollars of income, to a new federal lockup in Pahrump.

The council on Thursday also saw a preliminary budget outline that projected general fund spending in 2012 at $129 million, about $20 million less than the adopted general fund budget for 2011.

The city's total budget for all programs in 2012 would be $510.8 million.

The council is expected to adopt a final budget on May 17. The plan is due to the state by June 1.

Contact Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

 

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