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Las Vegas marshals propose budget fix, but city says it’s not enough

Las Vegas’ city marshals have come up with a way to almost meet the budget cuts asked for by the city’s leadership — provided that the savings be used to prevent all of the proposed layoffs within the marshals’ ranks.

It’s the latest maneuver in the city’s budget standoff with employee unions. City management has said all employees need to give up scheduled raises and take an 8 percent pay cut in each of the next two years to make up for an expected shortfall.

The city marshals’ proposal doesn’t meet all of those criteria.

Under their plan, which was unveiled Wednesday, marshals would give up a cost-of-living increase next year and a uniform allowance. Longevity pay would also be frozen.

Mayor Oscar Goodman didn’t comment specifically on the marshals’ proposal, but he did reiterate his stance that all employees have to accept the city’s proposal and all of the city’s unions, not just one, have to agree to it, or there will be layoffs.

And the city issued a statement Wednesday night indicating that the marshals’ proposal wasn’t acceptable.

Under the union’s proposal, marshals who haven’t reached the top of their pay grade would still get scheduled merit increases, said Chris Collins, executive director of the Police Protective Association.

“That was done on purpose,” he said. “Those on the lower end of the income scale — we think they need the money the most.”

Using an average marshal’s salary of $70,500, the measures would achieve a 7.5 percent to 7.75 percent savings, Collins said. That amounts to about $400,000, he said.

The marshals have one of the smaller of the Las Vegas city employee unions, with 75 members. The PPA also represents officers with the Metropolitan Police Department.

The union predicated this offer on two conditions — that nothing else in the collective bargaining agreement be changed, and that all the savings stemming from its concessions go to saving some or all of the 13 marshal jobs now under the ax.

“What I was afraid of is, we come in at close to the 8 percent, and the others don’t come in with anything,” said Collins. “So we save two marshals, two firemen — that’s not what we’re trying to do.”

Last week, city officials said they are ready to move forward eliminating 215 positions, including 171 layoffs, if wage concessions aren’t reached.

Firefighters are currently negotiating a new contract with the city. The largest city union, the Las Vegas City Employees Association, has taken a “wait and see” approach so that they’re not the only ones making concessions.

City officials said the marshals’ plan doesn’t achieve the savings needed from the bargaining group. Their proposal is based on reducing raises the contract already calls for instead of eliminating increases and cutting from existing wage levels, said city spokesman David Riggleman.

“It does not both suspend wage growth and roll back compensation,” says a statement from the city released Wednesday evening. “Both would be needed to achieve the required reductions. We hope further discussions can take place.”

Goodman reiterated the theme that all employees must agree to reductions.

“Take care of each other,” Goodman said. “The ball is in your court.

“One hundred and seventy-one jobs could be saved here … if people do the right thing across the board.”

He said that it’s good that some employees were stepping forward with ideas, and urged those employees to talk to their colleagues.

“If we get that 8 percent concession, nobody’s going to lose their job and all of the services that are going to be reduced remain intact,” Goodman said. “I can’t say it any more clearly.

“Get the word out that we mean business. It’s not a threat. It’s just reality.”

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Michelle Jotz, director of governmental affairs for the PPA, presented the council with 4,023 petition signatures urging the council not to let budget cuts reduce public safety resources.

“If 13 marshals are laid off, you will hurt public safety,” Jotz said.

City marshals patrol parks, provide security at city-owned properties and investigate crimes. In 2009, the unit responded to 13,689 calls and launched 6,195 investigations.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@ reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

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