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July 29, 2014

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Boulder City takes $760K plunge into reserve fund

Boulder City

Boulder City is being forced to tighten its belt yet again.

Taxes and other revenue in the last quarter of fiscal 2009, which ended June 30, fell short of projections that had been previously lowered.

Even after the $1 million in cuts that began in December 2008, the city’s revenue fell short of covering expenses by $760,000, forcing the city to dip even deeper into its reserve fund, City Manager Vicki Mayes told the City Council on Tuesday.

The city will be able to save another $776,000 this year by not filling nine vacant positions — three police officers, a deputy city clerk, a deputy fire chief and several secretaries.

“This is not a hiring freeze, because some positions have to be filled,” Mayes said. Firefighting jobs, for example, cost more to leave open, because the city ends up paying overtime to cover the shifts.

However, Mayes said, she plans to approach the Teamsters union Local 14, which represents the firefighters and other city employees, to waive a measure in the contract that restricts the Fire Department to use of only one reserve firefighter per shift.

In addition, she said, the city will begin to look at instituting fees for responses to false alarms and vehicle towing after DUI arrests, as well as increasing liquor license fees.

The City Council may be asked to implement new building permit fees, as well.

The council also will have to come up with a new way to set aside $500,000 for a payment to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The money is part of the city’s share of the cost of a new pipe to draw water from Lake Mead.

The falling lake levels have made the deeper pipe necessary, the water authority says, and each municipality that uses Lake Mead water has to contribute to the cost.

Boulder City had increased utility rates to raise the half-million dollars, but increased expenses and operating losses on electricity have eaten up that extra money.

•••

Henderson has teamed up with the Southern Nevada Water Authority and NV Energy to develop an unusual park. The seven-acre Mission View Park will wrap around and between an NV Energy substation and a water authority reservoir at Annet Street, south of Horizon Ridge Parkway.

Mission View Park site

The water authority donated the land for the park, and the federal government is footing its $4 million price tag through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, which allows local governments to use a portion of the proceeds of federal land sales in Southern Nevada for development of parks and trails.

The site posed design challenges because of its odd shape, but it also offered a sweeping view of the Las Vegas Valley, Henderson Park Planner Patricia Ayala said. To capture that view, the centerpiece of the park will be a covered viewing deck.

Other features at the park will include an open field for youth sports practices (no organized competition is planned for the field, Ayala said), a basketball court, walking trail, playground, picnic areas and a dog park with an obstacle course.

One corner of the park will also have an educational pavilion that the water authority and NV Energy will use for displays detailing how and where the valley gets its water and power and how to better conserve those resources.

Ayala said this is the first project on which the Henderson parks department, the power company and the water authority have cooperated to this degree.

The park is expected to be completed in fall 2010.

•••

Former Henderson City Manager Phil Speight is one of four finalists for the city manager’s job in Helena, Montana’s capital.

Helena, population 25,000, is about one-tenth the size of Henderson.

Speight was the top manager in Henderson for nearly two decades, stepping down in 2007 to become chief of staff for then-Rep. Jon Porter, a Republican. Speight was knocked off the government payroll after Democrat Dina Titus defeated Porter in the fall election.

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