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April 24, 2014

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Tempers flare in NLV as union deal breaks down

Councilman to manager: Try again for concessions

North Las Vegas City Councilman William Robinson is frustrated by City Manager Gregory Rose’s inability to get pay and benefit concessions from city workers.

The city is hoping to avoid laying off 160 employees. It would help if Teamsters Local 14, which represents about 1,200 city workers, agreed to defer a cost-of-living raise and the option to sell unused sick days back to the city.

The Teamsters rejected the proposal last week because the city reserved the right to still lay off workers.

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Rose explained the city’s options in balancing the budget: either employees make concessions or face layoffs.

The contract concessions would save the city more than $4 million, a big chunk of the $17 million it needs to trim from next year’s budget.

An impatient Robinson ordered Rose to return to the negotiating table and get the deal done in order to avoid layoffs. If Rose fails, Robinson said, the city manager will lose the councilman’s confidence and support.

It was a rare public criticism of Rose, who received a new contract from the city 18 months ago over Robinson’s and Councilman Robert Eliason’s opposition.

Rose said negotiations with the police union are ongoing and the city reached an agreement with the firefighters union that will save the city $1.5 million.

Robinson said he wasn’t satisfied with Rose’s explanation that wage concessions or layoffs are needed because payroll accounts for about 75 percent of the city budget.

He said Rose and his staff need to look elsewhere for cuts, including the city’s hosting of the annual BalloonaPalooza carnival.

“Why not cut that for a year?” Robinson said. “Lay a person off and you’re laying a family off. There are a lot of other areas that should be cut.”

The Teamsters have endorsed Robinson in his race against Councilwoman Shari Buck for the mayor’s post.

• • •

If anyone wonders why Henderson didn’t look outside of city hall for a new city manager, it has a history of promoting from within.

In 2007 the city declined to look elsewhere when it promoted Mary Kay Peck to city manager. She was fired this week after the City Council claimed she mismanaged the city budget.

The council promoted Mark Calhoun, an assistant city manager, to her job.

On Tuesday the City Council will fill another one of its top positions with an internal candidate.

The council is scheduled to appoint Elizabeth Macias Quillin as city attorney.

Quillin has worked in the Henderson attorney’s office since 2007. Previously she was an assistant Clark County manager.

City Attorney Shauna Hughes was one of about 60 employees to accept the city’s buyout offer. She has been the City Attorney since 1983.

• • •

North Las Vegas is guaranteed two new council members this year.

Term limits will force Stephanie Smith to step down from the Ward 3 seat.

Angelo Carvalho and Anita Wood face each other in the general election to fill that spot.

But the City Council will have to appoint another council member.

Current Council members Shari Buck and William Robinson are facing off in the mayoral race. They were separated by only 35 votes in the primary.

Both have two years left on their City Council terms (and would not be allowed to seek reelection in 2011 because of term limits).

The mayoral winner’s remaining two years will be served by someone appointed by the City Council within 30 days of the new mayor taking office.

Several names have been discussed for Buck’s Ward IV, including Richard Cherchio, who runs a homeowners association group; Dean Leavitt, a city planning commissioner; and Ruth Johnson, a former Clark County School Board member.

Not as many names are being discussed in Ward 1, where Robinson has served 26 years.

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