EDITORIAL: North Las Vegas budget woes

North Las Vegas is the Lindsay Lohan of local government. It’s a hot mess in need of rehab, detox and life coaching.

The state might yet provide such an intervention if the fiscal picture doesn’t improve at City Hall. A state-mandated report prepared by more than a dozen municipal department heads, presented at a special City Council meeting Tuesday, laid out the bleak fiscal forecast.

As reported Wednesday by the Review-Journal’s James DeHaven, the city has received a $32 million state bailout and transferred about $200 million from utility funds to keep its operating budget balanced, and it still faces annual budget deficits of more than $20 million going forward. Public safety unions are suing to collect an estimated $25 million in pay raises denied as part of a city-declared fiscal emergency. And Interim Finance Director Darren Adair says the city is one unexpected $4 million outlay away from entering state receivership. The general fund might be drained by the end of the new year.

“Collective bargaining groups couldn’t take sufficient pay cuts to solve the deficit, and it can’t be fixed with tax increases,” Mr. Adair told the council. “What it’s going to take is contributions from residents, creditors, employees, business owners and every other stakeholder — they’re all going to have to chip in.”

Saying the city needs “contributions” suggests participation will be voluntary. Do city leaders really believe the residents and business owners of a city leveled by the Great Recession can afford to pay more?

It’s past time for the city to aggressively reduce expenses. As North Las Vegas residents who’ve already made similar decisions can attest, it’s going to hurt.

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