County managers, non-union workers to take pay cut

Clark County management and nonunion employees are set to take a 2 percent pay cut to help ease the impact of a growing budget shortfall.

The reductions would affect 1,500 employees, saving $3.3 million, or about 40 county jobs.

County Manager Don Burnette sent a memo to department heads Wednesday informing them of the plan. If county commissioners approve the wage reductions next week, they will go into effect April 2.

The pay cuts would affect all county managers and workers not under labor contracts, including those at University Medical Center and the Water Reclamation District.

“We believe this decision is in the best interest of the citizens who receive county services and the employees who deliver them,” Burnette said in a statement. “It’s important for county management to show leadership during this difficult time and to do what we can to reduce the severity of the coming layoffs.”

Commissioners Susan Brager, Larry Brown and Steve Sisolak are asking that their pay be reduced by 2 percent to set an example.

“I don’t believe we can ask our employees to do anything that we’re not willing to do ourselves,” Brager said in a statement. “It is imperative in these economic times that we all work together.”

Burnette has told three dozen department heads to draft plans to trim their costs by 9 percent, mostly through reduced staffing. Those cost-cutting steps would save about $40 million and result in as many as 400 layoffs.

Falling tax revenue has created a $30 million shortfall that is expected to worsen after property owners finish appealing their assessed values next week.

These losses are aside from an anticipated money grab by the state that could cost the county $125 million a year.

In the memo, Burnette noted that managers have had their salaries frozen for three years while the average compensation for many union workers has increased about 13 percent in the same period.

The apparent dig at union workers reflected the growing tension between the county and the Service Employees International Union Local 1107. The two sides are deadlocked in bargaining the money portions of the contract.

The contract was extended for a year after the union agreed to reduce its cost-of-living raises to 1 percent from 3 percent, saving $10 million. It expires in July.

Union leaders have decried the proposed 9 percent cuts because workers would bear the brunt of them. They’ve also expressed an unwillingness to make further concessions.

The county and union have chosen a mediator to help resolve the impasse and avoid going to binding arbitration.

SEIU spokesman Nick DiArchangel questioned how the county figured workers got 13 percent in raises since 2008 after they gave up most of their cost-of-living raises two years ago.

“Who has the piece of paper in front of them to show the numbers?” DiArchangel said. “We need to see it.”

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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