CARSON CITY – The Sandoval administration seeks a federal waiver to allow it to disband two state boards and direct the $5 million in savings to training programs for unemployed workers.
The move would cost 83 jobs at the two boards, which funnel federal funds to the companies and colleges that provide the training. Eighteen state jobs would be created to monitor the training programs.
The decision to end the Southern Nevada Workforce Connections Board and the Northern Local Workforce Investment Board follows a state audit in May. The audit found that because of administrative costs, 61.84 percent of the funds were going to participants in Southern Nevada, compared with 70.24 percent of the funds for Northern Nevada.
Training was provided for 26,000 people last year for culinary and other types of jobs. The state received $29.5 million from the grants.
"We are trying to drive more funds into training," said Frank Woodbeck, director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
The administration wants an existing statewide board, the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, to decide which businesses and community colleges will provide training programs. Administrative functions would be taken over by Woodbeck’s department.
Eight employees at Workforce Connections had been earning more than $100,000 a year. But steps were taken to cut the number of employees from 72 to 34 and reduce those earning six-figure salaries from eight to five. Eleven people are employed at the Northern Nevada board.
Gov. Brian Sandoval has been pushing for the change, in part because of the high administrative costs.
"The (audit) results were extremely disappointing," said Sandoval in a statement. "Far too much money was being spent at the local level on overhead and administration; insufficient dollars reached the service provider agencies and worker training programs."
Money now comes from the U.S. Department of Labor to the statewide Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, which passes it on to the two local boards, who in turn contract for the training.
Woodbeck said the change would not affect how the money is split between each part of the state.
Funds are distributed based on population, with more than 70 percent going to Southern Nevada.
But during a meeting last week, Southern Nevada elected officials representing Workforce Connections voted 7-1 against Sandoval’s plan to disband the local boards, with the only no vote from the Esmeralda County Commission. The board provides training for workers in Clark, Esmeralda, Nye and Lincoln counties.
Interim Workforce Connections Executive Director Ardell Galbreth said the federal Workforce Investment Act prohibits the governor from redesignating the state as a "single service delivery area."
Woodbeck maintained that is not true. He said Alaska, Utah and Idaho have single statewide workforce investment boards.
"They just don’t want to dissolve it," added Woodbeck about the Southern Nevada board. "It would be true if I didn’t seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Labor."
But Galbreth said the board can be disbanded under federal law only if county and city government officials support that change.
He said the audit found "no significant or substantial violations and no questioned costs." The governor even gave Workforce Connections discretionary funds because of its performance, he said. Galbreth took his job April 5.
"We feel this particular action is unnecessary," said Galbreth, who has worked as deputy director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and served 28 years in the Air Force.
Galbreth said Workforce Connections wants to help the governor meet his goal of creating 50,000 jobs, adding, "We are not mad at anyone."
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.