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North Las Vegas budget includes room for at least 57 new employees

Updated May 18, 2017 - 6:30 pm

Once on the brink of bankruptcy, North Las Vegas erased a long-term deficit and is on pace to hire 57 full-time employees over the next year, the city’s finance director, Darren Adair, said Wednesday night.

North Las Vegas faced a state takeover amid a recession-driven financial collapse about six years ago, when the long term deficit skyrocketed to $152 million. Since then, the City Council gradually slashed its way to solvency by eliminating services and about 1,000 jobs across the board.

Once in junk status during the recession, the city’s bonds are now rated BB+ with a stable outlook, according to an updated analysis released in March by S&P Global Ratings.

“You have just brought to light the miracle that has happened in North Las Vegas,” Mayor John Lee told Adair. “The last four years, the council, the city manager and everybody else thought we were going down.”

Lee said it should take another 18 months to determine the full strength of the city’s recovery, while also noting revenues should be stronger.

The announcement came as the City Council unanimously approved a $601.6 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins on July 1.

The annual spending plan calls for hiring 39 additional police officers who will be assigned to street patrols across the city after going through the police academy and a field training program, said Officer Aaron Patty, a spokesman for the North Las Vegas Police Department.

“This obviously means the world to us,” Patty said. “With the economy coming back, and the city growing again, we’re excited to bring on these new officers.”

The city also plans to hire four workers for the Utilities, Public Works and the Community Development and Compliance departments. Two new workers are slated for the Finance Department, while the City Attorney’s Office, City Clerk, Library and Neighborhood Services Department will each get one new employee.

There were 134 additional city jobs still considered to be needed, but another $6.1 million is needed to fill those positions, including 39 new firefighters and another 40 police officers, officials said.

North Las Vegas had a high of roughly 2,200 workers in 2006, which plummeted to 1,100 by 2014 as city officials cut their way to solvency after the recession hit. The city is slowly restoring many of those lost positions with a current workforce of about 1,300 employees.

“That loss of a lot of employees, a lot of institutional knowledge, a lot of good people were sacrificed so this city could continue on,” Councilwoman Anita Wood said.

“It’s been a lot of tough decisions, it’s been a lot of creative financing and it’s been a lot of declaring a fiscal emergency,” Wood said. “But this council has consistently done what it needed to do and made tough decisions to ensure that our city would not be taken over by the state.”

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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