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Metro wants $10 million in additional funding for next fiscal year

Las Vegas police want an additional $10 million in their budget for the next fiscal year.

Department officials introduced the proposed budget at the monthly Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs meeting Monday, saying it would return its funding to its pre-recession level, but Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak had doubts.

The proposed budget discussed Monday was more than $549 million, including a 1.88 percent increase from last year of just over $10.1 million.

Rich Hoggan, chief financial officer for the Metropolitan Police Department, said the increase marks a return to the fiscal year 2009-2010 level. In the new fiscal year, Las Vegas police want to hire a number of officers and civilian employees.

The population increased by 36,000 people since the last budget cycle, so the department needs to add more positions to keep its ratio of 1.86 officers for every 1,000 people. The department is in the middle of a hiring frenzy, thanks to the More Cops sales tax increase that went into effect this year, but that tax won’t pay for all of the new positions.

Thirty-eight positions are being proposed in the operating fund budget. Hoggan said the department wants to hire 10 additional traffic cops, enhance the homicide section, add a few positions to work in the sexual assault section (on the thousands of backlogged rape kits now being tested), and fund leadership positions for the new Spring Valley Area Command police substation set to open this year.

The proposed budget also includes 22 civilian positions — 19 dispatchers, a forensic scientist and two crime scene analysts.

The budget proposed Monday has a number of obstacles to hurdle before it gains final approval.

Monday’s proposal doesn’t include cost of living increases that may come as a result of the contract negotiations progressing between the department and a handful of its unions. The department is also looking at a smaller budget surplus to rollover to the next year: While the department rolled over $20.4 million into the budget for fiscal year 2015-16, this time it will only be able to rollover $3.1 million based on current projections, Hoggan said.

And because of Nevada’s property tax abatement law, the agency will get less money from one of its main sources of funding. The law provides a partial abatement of taxes through a 3 percent cap on the tax bill for an owner’s primary residence and a cap of up to 8 percent on non-primary residences, land, commercial buildings, aircraft and other property.

The majority of the department’s funding comes from Clark County and the city of Las Vegas, and the hike in the department’s budget will require more from them without that funding from property taxes: an additional $5.2 million from the city of Las Vegas and $20.1 more from the county, Hoggan said Monday.

“We understand that the property tax abatement issue is affecting our funding partners as well,” he said. “To that end, this is an introduction of our budget.”

Sisolak seemed understanding of the department’s needs, but skeptical.

“I understand the difficulty you’re facing as it relates to this, but I don’t know what money the county is going to have available,” Sisolak said. “The initial, first blush of what we’re looking at here is there’s not going to be a lot of money.”

“I’m not real optimistic that we’re going to be able to come up with this kind of increase,” he said.

The discussion about the department’s budget will continue at the next two committee meetings, which include opportunities for public comment, at 9 a.m. March 28 and April 25.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl

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