More than 100 public employees are losing their jobs as part of ongoing restructuring at the valley’s two largest water agencies.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Valley Water District began laying off 101 full-time workers Wednesday as the wholesale water supplier and its largest member utility shift their focus from chasing growth to maintaining existing infrastructure.
“At both the district and the authority for the last 20 years or more, we worked to install the plumbing that makes big parts of our community possible,” said John Entsminger, general manager of both agencies.
Today that mission has changed from “growth-support” to one focused on operations, maintenance and customer service, Entsminger said.
Enstminger, who replaced longtime General Manager Pat Mulroy on Feb. 6, announced the cuts in an email to the agencies’ 1,352 employees Wednesday morning.
Those directly affected were to be notified Wednesday afternoon or today. Each will receive a severance package that includes full salary and medical benefits through June 19.
In addition to the layoffs, 54 vacant positions that have gone unfilled will be “permanently eliminated,” said Scott Huntley, spokesman for the authority and the district.
Entsminger said the move will save the two agencies a combined $14 million a year.
The largest share of the savings will come as a result of consolidating the now separate engineering staffs at the authority and the district into a single, smaller department.
About two-thirds of those being laid off are managers or professionals being paid between $70,000 and $154,000 a year.
The authority will lose 47 employees, and the district will lose 54 employees, including several staff members at the district-owned Springs Preserve.
The district’s only previous layoff involving permanent staff came in 2010, when about 20 employees were let go from the Springs Preserve.
Since the economic downturn struck in 2008, the district and the authority have cut 354 temporary staff and contractor positions, have launched early retirement and voluntary furlough programs, and have stopped giving longevity pay to new hires.
When Entsminger took over as general manager, he eliminated one position on his executive team and one position on his senior management team.
“This is not something that is being done in a vacuum. This organization has been evolving since the recession began,” he said. “This is that next — and hopefully last — step.
“At the end of the day, this is really about making sure we have the right-sized workforce for what our mission is now.”
The Southern Nevada Water Authority was formed in 1991 to serve as wholesale water supplier for utilities in the Las Vegas Valley and Boulder City.
The Las Vegas Valley Water District is the state’s largest municipal water utility, serving about 360,000 customers.
Contact Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean.