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Las Vegas Fire Department to reduce operating budget by about $10M

Updated July 2, 2020 - 12:16 pm

The Las Vegas Fire Department is implementing a plan to reduce its operating budget by roughly $10 million to deal with a deficit caused by the pandemic.

Fire Chief William McDonald said in a statement that “the entire city of Las Vegas is feeling the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

“It has resulted in holes in our budget that could not be offset entirely by the receipt of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,” McDonald said. “This remaining budget deficit has required our fire department, as well as all other city departments, to decrease the operating budgets for this fiscal year.”

The city in May passed a pared-down, $572 million budget, noting that tax revenue — principally sales tax — was down 20 percent and projected to perform worse than at any time in the past eight years. In total, the budget is nearly $100 million less than prior years.

The Fire Department’s overall budget for the budget year ending June 30, 2021, is $141.7 million.

McDonald said the deficit means limited overtime funds will available to fill daily vacancies.

“Personnel who are not reporting to work for various reasons that include (but are not limited to) vacation, sick leave, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and on-the-job injuries will first be replaced by a pool of unassigned employees known as rovers,” McDonald said. “Once the rover pool is assigned, then there are positions that can be filled by our limited amount of OT. If after the rovers and OT are assigned, and there are still vacancies, up to four pieces of apparatus will be placed out of service.”

McDonald said there will be “no reductions on this Fourth of July holiday weekend.”

“This plan can save over $10 million and was developed with the goal to ensure that every station will still be able to provide, at minimum, two pieces of operational equipment staffed with firefighters,” he said. “One of these pieces of equipment will have the ability to transport the sick and injured of our community, and the other piece of equipment will be available for fighting fires.”

More than 700 city firefighters represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters were just given $3.4 million in bonuses split between fiscal years 2020 and 2021. This consisted of $1.7 million covered by the CARES Act and $1.7 million by the city.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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