Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009 | 4:46 p.m.
Since it became evident last fall that Nevada was facing a severe budget shortfall and would have to make cuts, Henderson officials have expressed concern that the Legislature would raid municipal coffers to cover the state's shortfall.
On Tuesday, city officials hosted nine legislators to relay that concern and to highlight their other priorities for the legislative session that begins Feb. 2.
Councilwoman Gerri Schroder said the meeting was primarily a get-acquainted session for city staff and legislators, a number of whom are newly elected.
"There are some new members of our Senate and our Assembly, and they don't know us and we don't know them," Schroder said. "So this gives a us a chance to meet each other. … We're hoping that this kind of communication will allow us to know each other and be familiar with the issues in Henderson."
Issue number one was the recession, which has required the city to trim $34.2 million from its current budget because of declining tax revenues.
Henderson Finance Director Steve Hanson told legislators that the city has made dozens of cuts and is evaluating additional reductions. He asked legislators to be mindful of that as they tackle the state's budget shortfall.
"I know that the next five months are going to be brutal for all of you," he said. "The budget shortfall at the state level dwarfs anything we're facing here, but we ask that you carry us with you and keep us in your thoughts up there."
Legislators who represent Henderson suggested that they would be resistant to efforts to solve the state's budget shortfall by leaning on cities.
"One of the things I feel pretty strongly about is that Henderson has a long track record of being efficient with its money," said Assemblywoman Ellen Speigel, D-Henderson, who won the Assembly District 21 seat in November to represent the southwestern part of Green Valley. "One of the things I would hate to see would be for the City of Henderson to be penalized for being efficient with its money and having an excellent staff."
Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, whose Assembly District 22 includes the southern part of Henderson, said the relationship of state and local budgets could become a major issue, but said the Legislature will have to act with caution.
"I think we (the state and municipalities) have to be mindful of each other and recognize that we have the same constituents," he said. "Any effort to take money from the cities would limit their ability to serve those constituents."
Jeremy Twitchell can be reached at 990-8928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.