Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2014

Currently: 84° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

ANSWERS: CLARK COUNTY:

Commissioners’ discretionary funds still are spendable cash

This week we’re circling back on some outstanding issues. Among our subjects: commissioner parties, county pay raises for people who don’t work for the county and doggy death row.

Commissioner parties? I didn’t get an invite.

That’s too bad because, as the Sun reported in November, they can be a real blast.

Each of the county’s seven commissioners gets a $15,000 discretionary fund each year. Last year, most commissioners didn’t dip deeply into the funds, but some did, using the money for things like hula dancers for a senior luau, a Frank Sinatra impersonator and a harpist for a Mother’s Day celebration, Halloween parties at community centers and uniforms for pee-wee football teams.

Aren’t there any limits on how they can spend the money?

No. After the Sun’s story, Commissioners Chip Maxfield and Bruce Woodbury called for formal guidelines to govern how the money can be used. That was in December.

OK, it’s been four months. Are the guidelines in place yet?

No. Maxfield said last week that crafting the guidelines has been pushed aside by more immediate issues.

Hmm. Are they just stalling?

Not according to Maxfield. He said a draft is sitting on his desk. He said he needs to review it and then it’s up to other commissioners whether they want to bring the guidelines to a vote. He’s hoping that will happen within a few weeks.

He and Woodbury say they still think a formal policy is necessary.

“My feeling is these expenditures ought to be minimal and directly related to the functioning of the office itself,” Woodbury said.

With a recent drop in tax revenue, shouldn’t commissioners set an example by cutting their discretionary funds?

Woodbury thinks so. “I would support a substantial reduction,” he said.

Now a commissioner just has to bring such a proposal forward.

Did you say something about the county paying people who don’t work for it?

Well, that’s been known to happen, according to police and prosecutors. But that’s not what we were talking about.

We’re talking about retroactive pay raises for former county workers. You’ll recall that commissioners — after much debate — decided to give former employees a second chance to collect a raise.

The issue arose because the county and the union that represents its rank-and-file workers, the Service Employees International Union Nevada, didn’t strike a new collective bargaining deal until eight months after the previous contract had expired.

Under the new agreement, employees who left county employment during those eight months had 30 days to ask the county for a retroactive 3 percent raise for the time they worked after the previous contract had expired.

But after hearing from former workers who missed the deadline, Commissioners Tom Collins and Chris Giunchigliani argued that the county should have done a better job notifying the 150 eligible former employees who did not ask for the retroactive pay.

If all 150 workers took the deal, it would have cost the county about $130,000. County management opposed the idea, saying a deal’s a deal.

In the end, commissioners decided to renotify former workers and give them another 30 days to apply for the retroactive pay. That was in February.

How many former workers took advantage?

The final tally: 91.

The cost: $69,654.

What’s the latest on the two dogs that recently attacked a pair of boys?

The dogs are on death row. The county’s animal advisory committee upheld an animal control decision to declare the boxer and pit bull “vicious.” The designation means they’ll be euthanized in 10 days unless the dogs’ owner appeals the decision in court.

The dogs reportedly got loose and attacked two 5-year-old boys April 15 on Natalie Avenue between Eastern Avenue and McLeod Drive. One boy suffered injuries to his leg and the other was bitten in the face. Both are recovering.

Capital punishment for dogs is rare. Since 2006, seven animals have received death sentences in Clark County.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy