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Official’s exit would cost NLV $337,000

The likely upcoming departure of North Las Vegas’ city manager will cost the city more than $337,000 in severance pay at a time when it has been forced to eliminate positions, postpone projects and ask workers to defer cost-of-living raises.

The City Council is slated to vote Dec. 2 on whether to accept Gregory Rose’s resignation “in exchange for a cash payment of severance pay … and release of any and all claims against” the city.

Rose’s only known support on the five-member council is Mayor Shari Buck. She opposes the agreement and plans to vote against it, she said Tuesday.

“How can anyone in good conscience in this economy — with people out of work and struggling — justify spending that kind of money for no good reason?” she said.

Buck added that Rose is a good city manager who has helped lead the city through tough times.

But City Councilman Richard Cherchio, who supports the agreement, said it’s time for change in city management.

Rose, who has served as city manager since late 2003, has a “different philosophy” about the future of North Las Vegas than the council, Cherchio said.

“Sometimes you have to pay to move forward,” he said.

He declined to be specific about what he sees as Rose’s shortcomings.

Rose has been on leave from his job at the city since Nov. 18.

On Monday, he declined to speak about his potential departure, saying only: “I have some soul-searching to do.”

He could not be reached for further comment Tuesday.

Neither Cherchio nor Buck would specify the issues that lead to departure talks, nor would they say who started departure talks.

But Cherchio said the talks were not related to recent controversy surrounding the city’s handling of more than $34 million it received from the quarter-cent More Cops sales tax initiative approved in 2005.

Police and other officials have criticized the city for its decision last year to shift funding for 32 police officers from its general fund and a separate public safety tax fund to More Cops.

They have said the shift violates the spirit of the original initiative, which states that its funds may be used only to hire and equip additional police officers and cannot be used to “replace or supplant existing funding.”

The city denied any wrongdoing, and Rose said the shift was meant to correct a simple “coding error.” The 32 recently hired officers should have been funded by More Cops all along, he said.

Council members William Robinson, Robert Eliason and Anita Wood did not return repeated calls seeking comment on both the More Cops issue and Rose’s potential departure.

Robinson and Eliason voted against a contract extension for Rose earlier this year. The extension was approved 3-2 in a split vote. Then-Mayor Mike Montandon and then-council members Buck and Stephanie Smith voted for the extension. Montandon and Smith have since left the council.

“We have a new council,” Cherchio said. “I think it’s best for the city” for Rose to move on.

Montandon, who worked with Rose for years, said he was “terribly sad” to hear that Rose might be leaving.

“You’d search long and hard to find someone harder working and more conscientious” than Rose, he said.

The newly configured council might be looking “to put their own stamp on things” by bringing in a new city manager, he said.

“It’s politics.”

Rose’s contract was to run through September 2013. It specifies that if the city chooses to terminate him before then, it will pay him one year’s salary plus “accrued benefits” including vacation and sick time. His current salary is $202,060.

The city also must pay the cost of health, dental and vision insurance premiums for Rose and his dependents for one year.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

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