The bad news: 204 North Las Vegas city jobs will be cut by mid-June.
But that number, which the City Council approved Thursday evening during a 52-minute budget meeting, is significantly less than the 273 positions originally targeted to be eliminated.
The financially strapped city made the cuts to save the additional $33.4 million it needs to make it through fiscal year 2011.
"We have done everything in our power to reduce the number of positions to be eliminated, but we still have work ahead of us," Acting City Manager Maryann Ustick said.
At least $19.6 million will be cut in city services, including $275,000 in legal support from the city attorney's office, which also reviews business contracts for North Las Vegas. A detailed list of the positions to be cut was not provided at the meeting.
Each city department came up with cost recovery strategies, such as increasing fees and transferring project funds where needed, which will help make up $14 million in the budget reduction program.
Ustick said the legal service cuts are "painful" and "no doubt will impact other departments."
Budget cuts will be felt in all areas this summer as libraries reduce their hours and two community pools shut down.
Heated debate occurred between Mayor Shari Buck, who was the lone vote against the budget reduction proposal, and her fellow council members about making cuts to police and fire departments.
The Police Department will defer vehicle replacements until after fiscal year 2011, freeze positions vacated since Dec. 2 and not fill vacancies for commissioned police officers, which will save the city close to $4.9 million.
The Fire Department will cut from operational units and code enforcement, which will save $2.7 million. At least 20 firefighters are expected to lose their jobs.
"As a City Council member and the mayor, my top priority has to be public safety," Buck said. "To cut police and fire jobs is just something I'm not willing to do."
That set off Councilwoman Anita Wood, who gave a six-minute speech about treating all city employees equally.
"I don't know that we get to choose that some city employees are more important than others," Wood said. "We have to work together, city and unions, to help us get through this crisis."
Councilman Robert Eliason became visibly irritated with Buck and said her position "insults" the rest of the council.
Eliason continued to call Buck out: "We're all concerned about public safety, mayor, but what have you brought to the table?"
The city, which is dealing with plummeting tax revenues, has undergone five rounds of budget cuts totaling $51 million since December 2008.
It already has eliminated or frozen dozens of positions, reduced overtime, trimmed departmental budgets and offered voluntary employee buyouts and furlough days.
The city's three employee unions last year agreed to contract concessions that included cost-of-living deferrals. Savings from the concessions were $8.7 million, but the council said the unions need to do more.
"To those who do not have work to do because of a slowdown in development and planning, obviously we cannot continue to pay for work that's not there anymore," Buck said. "To those who will receive layoff notices in places where we're busy with services and our residents will suffer because services are being cut, that's difficult too for me to handle.
"For those who will be laid off, that is not in any way a reflection of the work that you've done," Buck said. "We've appreciated your work for the city throughout the years."
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