Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2014

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ANSWERS CLARK COUNTY:

‘Boot drive’ OT for individual firefighters is unknown

Steve Sisolak

Steve Sisolak

The was a lot of response to a Sun story last week about county firefighters collecting money for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation during work hours. Several readers wondered how many of those firefighters receive overtime or callback pay while doing charity work. And a Clark County commissioner said he will push to forbid employees from doing charity work while on the clock.

What did you learn about firefighters being on overtime or callback pay during their MDA “Boot Drive”?

First, a primer: Overtime is 1 1/2 times the regular hourly wage; callback is the same rate, but also requires a contribution to that firefighter’s pension.

It was impossible to find out which individual firefighters collected for the charity while receiving extra pay. But overtime figures for the three days that firefighters worked the annual drive in 2008 and 2009 were about the department’s average. (Figures weren’t available for this year because the drive didn’t wrap up until late last week.)

During the 2008 drive — Aug. 22, 28 and 29 — firefighters called in to replace colleagues were paid a total of $134,844 for 2,797 hours of work, or $44,948 per day. Those figures include overtime or callback, plus regular hourly pay. The additional callback and overtime averaged $14,983 a day.

In 2009, the total salary, plus overtime and callback for replacement firefighters was $137,592 for 2,854 hours, or $45,864 per day. The additional callback and overtime averaged $15,288 a day.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak argues that firefighters should not be on duty while doing charity work. What did he say about those numbers?

“Wow.”

“Callback and overtime pay is something that needs to be addressed, period. And this has nothing to do with the Boot Drive. It’s just gotten way, way out of hand.” Sisolak plans to introduce an ordinance to prohibit the practice of soliciting “on company time.”

The North Las Vegas Fire Department this year banned firefighters from collecting donations during work hours. Henderson, Boulder City and Las Vegas still allow it, although some Las Vegas firefighters contribute their time while off duty.

How do callback and overtime policies get addressed?

They’re developed during contract negotiations, which are happening now.

Do you know what’s happening in the county-firefighters union negotiations?

No. They are held behind closed doors.

Also, commissioners typically give their direction to negotiators in closed-door meetings at the end of regular meetings.

•••

Although Las Vegas is still in the grips of the Great Recession, some think it’s a good time to plan ahead.

The Sun wrote recently about a survey by UNLV researchers that found 40 percent of Las Vegans want to move out of Nevada. It prompted Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani to call for a study of zoning and building codes, which might lead to changes in the way neighborhoods are designed.

Chris Giunchigliani

Chris Giunchigliani

Giunchigliani will be on hand Monday when a report that touches on similar themes is released.

What study is that?

The Sierra Club in Nevada and PLAN of Nevada funded a study examining six crucial issues facing the Las Vegas Valley if the area resumes growing: water, economic diversity, land use, transportation, resource conservation and changing demographics.

The study says if 27,000 federal acres are developed, the valley would add 367,000 to 509,000 residents, increasing water needs by 20 percent and energy demand by 30 percent.

PLAN opposes the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plan to build a pipeline to take ground water from rural counties. The report says a better alternative is conservation through pricing, incentives and changing the way power is generated.

The study notes: In 2008, “power generation for the Las Vegas Valley used more water than all of the houses, lawns, swimming pools, businesses, factories, casinos, hotels, fountains and golf courses combined.”

The study will be released at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Clark County Commission auditorium.

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