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Henderson city attorney’s performance praised

Henderson City Attorney Josh Reid received a glowing performance evaluation Tuesday from members of the City Council.

Mayor Andy Hafen and Councilwoman Debra March specifically praised Reid for using his experience in private practice to improve the office.

“You truly have brought a level of professionalism to the city attorney’s office that has not been seen before,” Hafen said.

March said Reid had “met and exceeded” her expectations.

“I look forward to keeping him for a long time,” she said.

Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, was a controversial choice when the council appointed him in December 2011.

Critics contended the council hired Josh Reid as a favor to his father after lowering standards to help the younger Reid qualify for the job.

Tuesday’s evaluation covered the year that ended June 27. Josh Reid, who has a three-year employment contract, received a salary of about $199,000 that year.

In a memo to the council, Josh Reid said his office “was able to make substantial progress” from the previous fiscal year, “thanks in part to the strategic hires of attorneys with specialized legal expertise needed by the city, and the dedication of our assistant city attorneys who have succeeded in ‘doing more with less.’”

According to the memo, highlights of fiscal 2013 included:

■ A 75 percent reduction in the amount of outside attorney’s fees borne by the city, as compared with fiscal 2010.

■ A 13 percent reduction in the number of attorneys in the office since the start of fiscal 2013.

■ The fiscal year ending with all current civil litigation matters in state and federal court being handled by lawyers in the city attorney’s office, “as opposed to outside counsel.”

“Upon my arrival at the city of Henderson it quickly became clear to me that the city attorney’s office lacked depth in real estate and commercial transaction legal expertise,” Josh Reid wrote.

According to the memo, a search for two attorneys with such expertise “resulted in the hiring of top legal talent from two well-respected private law firms.”

In January, the city filed a highly publicized lawsuit against controversial developer Chris Milam and others in connection with a failed arena deal. Milam settled with the city in March.

According to Josh Reid’s memo, the city attorney’s office spent nearly $1.6 million on fees for outside counsel in fiscal 2010. That amount has decreased each year since and was down to about $393,000 in fiscal 2013.

PARK DESIGN RESUMES

Design work is resuming on a six-acre park in southeastern Henderson, and a spokeswoman said construction could be completed by this time next year.

In March 2008, the Henderson City Council approved a project budget of nearly $6.1 million for the development of McCullough Vista Park at the corner of Mission Drive and Greenway Road.

The council approved a professional engineering services agreement in June 2010 with Hamilton Anderson Associates, a design firm that has locations in Las Vegas, Detroit and New Orleans. Under the contract, the firm was to be paid about $452,000.

On Tuesday, the council approved an amendment to the agreement in the amount of about $149,000, which includes nearly $23,000 in gas tax funds.

According to background provided with the agenda item, the project design began in late 2010 but was put on hold in September 2012 “due to Public Works staffing changes and other project priorities.”

Approval of the amendment was needed “in order to resume the project, take it through the final stages of design and through the bidding process,” according to the background information.

BUS REPLACEMENT APPROVED

Also Tuesday, the council approved the purchase of a replacement bus at a cost of about $77,000 for the Parks and Recreation Department.

The bus will be purchased from Arizona Bus Sales in Phoenix.

Becker said the department has three buses that seat about 14 people each. They are used for transporting seniors, participants in summer camps and youth enrichment programs, and participants in therapeutic recreation programs.

The 2006 bus that needs replacing has 129,000 miles on it and frequently needs repairs, Becker said.

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