County to consider restoring 2 percent to salaries

Clark County public employee paychecks could start inching up toward pre-recession levels.

On Tuesday, County officials will consider returning most of the 2 percent pay cut forced on more than 750 non-union and non-management county workers in 2011. The salaries of the employees were trimmed during the recession.

Because salaries were cut in 2011, officials aren’t calling the potential pay bump a raise. Instead, Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak calls the potential salary increase a “restoration” of salary cuts.

“Before we start talking about raises, we’ve got to restore what the cuts were,” Sisolak said.

The potential wage increase for non-union employees could cost an estimated $1 million, said County Manager Don Burnette.

Meanwhile, negotiations are underway between the county and the Service Employees International Union.

Burnette has said he’s open to wage increases for employees in the SEIU, which represents about 5,000 county employees. Union officials were unavailable for comment.

The average salary of the non-union employees is $59,585.

A 2 percent increase would not completely restore salaries. In terms of dollars, the increase nets less than the cut took from the salary. For example, a 2 percent cut from a $50,000 salary would result in a salary of $49,000. A 2 percent raise on a $49,000 salary, meanwhile, would boost the salary to $49,980 -- still a bit short of the original $50,000.

Employees also no longer get merit and cost-of-living raises, which fell by the wayside in the economic slump. In 2009, merit increases went from 3 percent to 1 percent. In 2011, merit increases were frozen.

The county also considering eliminating longevity pay for future non-union employees. Current employees would still be eligible for longevity pay, which, after eight years of services adds 2 percent to the base salaries.

That move, if made, would save the county $28.3 million during 30 years, according to the county’s estimate.

About 320 upper management county employees received average pay increases of 2 percent this year, according to county figures. They had a 2 percent pay cut in 2011.

SEIU-affiliated employees also took on across-the-board pay cuts of 2 percent in 2011. The last year they had a 1 percent cost-of-living increase was 2009. Merit increases were frozen in 2012.

The county has 10,387 full-time employees, a 23 percent reduction since the recession started.

No final decision is expected at today’s meeting, but it could come in August.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781.