Las Vegas’ city-run jail could get an influx of new inmates if a proposal to lease space to North Las Vegas is adopted.
The Las Vegas City Council is scheduled Wednesday to consider a proposal to house hundreds of inmates from North Las Vegas, which faces dire fiscal straits and is looking to cut costs.
The two cities have been in talks for weeks and have crafted an agreement that could save North Las Vegas $11 million annually and generate $6.8 million for Las Vegas.
"We are not consolidating jails; we are leasing a space," North Las Vegas City Manager Tim Hacker said.
The agreement would allow North Las Vegas to mothball jail facilities that Hacker called "antiquated" but maintain a detention department in the city government, as opposed to merging completely with another city.
Hacker said about 50 of the 150 people working at the North Las Vegas jail would move to Las Vegas, and the remainder would be laid off.
Mike Yarter, president of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association, said the proposal could undermine public safety because it would take officers longer to haul inmates to the Las Vegas jail than it does to take them to the North Las Vegas jail.
"You are going to have officers off the streets for a few hours. … Logistically it is just going to be a disaster," he said.
"It is only a few miles longer trip," he said, adding the agreement calls for a booking time of 30 minutes or less. "Our folks are driving in from all over to our current facility anyway."
Asked whether the union would challenge the decision, Yarter said city officials have carte blanche when it comes to staffing decisions.
"The citizens need to challenge it," he said. "I can’t control if they are going to have a jail or not."
Yarter said there are about 100 union members working in the North Las Vegas jail, and he estimated about 50 could lose their jobs while the remaining workers could move to the Las Vegas facility.
According to a draft of the agreement, North Las Vegas would pay Las Vegas $3.3 million annually plus daily fees per inmate.
Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke said Las Vegas has jail capacity for as many as 1,050 inmates but on a typical day has only about 700. The extra space can accommodate about 240 inmates, including 75 female inmates.
Radke said Las Vegas would use the revenue earned through the agreement to offset costs.
A jail agreement would be the second recent streamlining move between the two cities. Last year, they consolidated fire department training efforts.
The two cities are considering combining efforts on after-school programs for children, business licensing, traffic safety and park maintenance, Radke said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.