Las Vegas City Manager Jorge Cervantes received universal praise from city lawmakers Wednesday, along with a pay raise and bonus, for his role in steering the city through the pandemic in his first full year as the top administrator.
Cervantes will receive a 4 percent pay raise, the average bump provided to city executives, boosting his salary to $260,000 yearly, plus benefits. He will also be given a $15,000 bonus, which is more than the pre-pandemic $10,000 bonus last given to former City Manager Scott Adams in May 2019.
“The words really do fail me to express how solid you are and you have walked us through a most challenging time,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said during Cervantes’ annual review.
Cervantes was chosen from four city executives vying to replace the retiring Adams and he officially took the helm in November 2020, inheriting a financial crisis stemming from statewide business closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the city’s financial condition has not been as severe as once feared, with the City Council adopting a $628 million general fund budget in May that projected slight increases in retail sales tax and restored dozens of previously unfunded positions.
Cervantes, 60, had spent 22 years in City Hall when he was hired and most recently had overseen city operations and development. City officials have been financially conservative, ending the prior fiscal year with $5 million fewer expenses than budgeted, he said.
Federal stimulus packages have been a big boon in improving the city’s financial outlook. Still, the city recently received more than $2 billion in requests for $130 million in the latest federal pandemic aid it was allocated, underscoring that community needs continue to far outweigh available funding.
Progress in 2021
In a presentation to the council, Cervantes highlighted city efforts this year to provide nearly 35,000 vaccines to underserved communities, distribute more than $40 million in rental assistance and assist 1,500 small businesses through a $6 million grant.
Early on in his tenure, the city had routinely missed self-imposed weekly quotas on inspecting businesses for compliance with public health guidelines at a time when Gov. Steve Sisolak had called upon local governments to step up enforcement.
But the city soon got back on track after it reassigned city employees to assist with the regional effort.
The city has also assisted more than 6,500 people at the city’s open-air Courtyard Homeless Resource Center, increased the presence of city marshals by 40 percent, reduced incarcerations through specialty courts and added a bilingual public information officer and diversity outreach officer, he said.
Cervantes’ two-year contract runs through next year.