City Council tables negotiations with unions

Negotiations to end a yearlong legal battle between the city of North Las Vegas and its Police Officers Association hit a snag this month, with City Council members tabling consideration of a $4.1 million settlement between the two parties until Aug. 21.

The agreement faced two setbacks in the week leading up to the Aug. 7 vote, including Clark County commissioners’ decision to push back consideration of a quarter-percent More Cops sales tax increase to bolster public safety funding in North Las Vegas and three other area municipalities.

City leaders also witnessed the state’s surprise denial of $4.3 million in hoped-for utility fund transfers recently approved under Assembly Bill 503.

Dollars freed up under that bill were expected to help balance the city’s books and grease the skids toward out-of-court settlements with all three of the city’s major public safety bargaining groups.

State officials’ decision to put off the cash infusion pending a citywide audit could delay the sewer fund transfers — and contingent agreements with city unions — until late this fall.

Police union representatives can opt out of any tentative agreement with the city if the More Cops tax and sewer fund appropriations aren’t in place by Aug. 26.

City leaders can only hope state and county officials might reverse course on those topics before then.

“The county commission vote has a lot to do with what we’re doing here,” said Mayor John Lee. “I’m hoping they will see the wisdom of what we’re trying to do sometime in the next couple weeks.”

If approved, this month’s settlement with police officers would erase a major chunk of the city’s ongoing $25 million legal battle with three public safety unions — all for around 40 cents on the dollar.

The original case filed by police union leaders last summer looked to recoup an estimated $10 million in agreed-upon pay raises suspended in the aftermath of a city-declared fiscal emergency last June.

Representatives from the city Firefighters and Police Supervisors Associations filed similar actions, with the latter group doubling its stake in the effort after City Council members voted to renew the controversial pay freeze last month.

Now more than a year removed from the $33 million city budget shortfall that helped precipitate a first round of forced concessions, Firefighters Association President Jeff Hurley confirmed that representatives from his union are in talks to take a settlement along the lines of the agreement recently accepted by the police officers union.

Police Supervisors Association President Leonard Cardinale has no such plans.

With more than $14 million still in the state sewer fund pipeline, Cardinale doesn’t see why his 57 members should settle for a penny less than what they’re currently seeking in court.

“We believe the city suspended our contracts illegally,” Cardinale said. “They have millions coming down between More Cops and the enterprise (utility) fund. Our end probably amounts to roughly $900,000.

“So if it comes to their ability to pay, we’ll argue that in court.”

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at or 702-477-3839.

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