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Henderson City Council considers medical marijuana codes


Henderson City Council on Tuesday got its first look at the potential medical marijuana industry.

Proposed changes to city code and zoning regulations to allow medical marijuana establishments were introduced, including location restrictions, fees, license classes and the application process. The changes are scheduled to come back to council for discussion and possible adoption July 1.

“They are not to be deliberated on tonight,” Bristol Ellington, assistant city manager, told the council. “We just wanted an opportunity to make a brief presentation.”

If adopted, the state would decide who is best qualified to operate dispensaries before applicants go before council, likely late this year. First, city staff will determine preliminary findings of suitability of applicants, then the city’s community development department would tentatively approve zoning before passing applicants to the state.

If code changes are approved July 1, the city would take applications July 7-17, and the state will accept applications from Aug. 5-18. The state will then have as many as 90 days to review them. Henderson has been approved for five dispensaries by Clark County, but will send all preliminary suitable applications to the state.

Mike Harris, a 20-year Henderson resident and potential applicant, said he has followed potential medical marijuana ordinances around the state for the past 18 months and was impressed with the city’s work.

“You guys put a lot of thought, a lot of effort and a lot of time in developing these and I think you’ve done a marvelous job,” Harris said.

NEW FIRE CONTRACT APPROVED

The City Council approved the first new two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Henderson Fire Department since 2008. The contract starts July 1 and covers 205 firefighters and paramedics. The remaining 20 management and support staff are nonunion.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1883 members will see a net nonsalary increase of 1.11 percent in fiscal year 2015, and a 2.23 percent increase in fiscal year 2016. The department’s current salary, retirement and overtime expense is $30.3 million.

New firefighters and paramedics will have a 10 percent lower starting pay, with 12 steps on the pay scale instead of nine. There will be a 5 percent increase added at the end of the pay scale, impacting 115 current employees with a salary, overtime and benefits expense of $1.01 million. The new steps will save about $1.9 million for a class of 15 recruits during a 12-year period.

The city will save an additional $900,000 in changes to fire department sick leave, reduced vacation ours and a sharing of any increase in the PERS program.

The firefighters agreed to a one-time lump-sum payment equal to 2 percent of total pay at a cost of $450,000 instead of a base wage increase.

Victor Joecks, researcher and executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, said any increases while the city is struggling with budget shortfalls shows how broken the state’s collective bargaining system is for taxpayers.

“Here we have a situation where we're giving increases to people making $200,000 or more in total compensation, while seeking a tax increase on families making 10 percent less on average,” Joecks said. “And they’re extending the salary scale. The root problem is the state’s collective bargaining laws that give the unions power to do this, allowing them to keep ratcheting up their salaries.”

The city has a $5 million operating budget shortfall for the year ending June 30, and pulled another $4.6 million from the city’s vehicle purchasing and maintenance fund to balance the fiscal year 2015 budget.

Mayor Andy Hafen, whose son works for the fire department, abstained from the item. This is first of six union contracts being negotiated by the city.

 

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