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October 25, 2014

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County memo: 109 full-time county employees, 50 part-timers to lose their jobs

Clark County will lay off 109 employees shortly after the Fourth of July, the result of further efforts by county officials to balance the budget. Another 50 part-timers will also lose their jobs.

The planned layoffs follow attempts to determine potential savings from ongoing union contract negotiations and assessment of reserve funds.

A county memo obtained by the Sun states that 260 positions will be eliminated. Of those, 109 are filled, while the others are open positions that the county will not fill.

The employees who will lose their jobs will be notified by June 18.

The move will save the county about $28 million from its general fund expenses, which are expected to total about $1.3 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. (The rest of the county’s $6.2 billion budget comes from operational fees, such as those paid by airlines to the airport or by developers for permits and inspections.)

Jobs will be eliminated in the following areas: 11 from the Assessor’s Office; seven from Business Licensing; two from the Clerk’s Office; 14 from the Commission/County Manager’s Office; three from Comprehensive Planning; one from the Coroner; three from the Fire Department; eight from Parks and Recreation; one from the Public Defender’s Office; two from the Public Guardian; seven from Public Works; 20 from Real Property Management; four from the Recorder’s Office; and four from Social Services.

Another 27 targeted jobs are nongeneral fund positions--they are paid through fee collections, not taxes--in the departments of Air Quality Management and Public Works. Five of those jobs are open positions that won’t be filled.

In the memo, County Manager Virginia Valentine wrote that more than 500 general fund jobs have been eliminated or held open in the past two years. She expects the impact on services from the new cuts to be minimal for most departments “as the majority of eliminated positions are either vacant, are in departments that have experienced a decrease in workload, or provide services internally to the county.”

Valentine said some internal changes already taking place, such as the shift of some firefighters into a rotation of “relief staff” to fill in for other firefighters who are absent, will save millions in overtime expenses. Those changes are expected to save $5.5 million in overtime payments in the coming year.

Even with the layoffs Valentine outlined in the memo, the county still faces a roughly $19 million hole over the next 12 months.

How do they expect to fill it?

“That’s going to come from (union) concessions, and if it doesn’t there’s going to have to be more job losses, I think,” County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said. “The time has come for people to stop posturing and act.”

The two major unions now negotiating with the county are the firefighters union, which represents about 700 people, and the service employees union, which represents about 9,000.

Because personnel costs consume 60 percent of the county’s general fund budget, those negotiations are the key to long-term savings. The emphasis over the next 12 months, too, will be on long-term savings because next year’s budget is beginning to look much bleaker than 2010-11.

Valentine pointed out that $128 million in “one-time money” — capital fund and reserve fund transfers mostly — won’t be available in 2011-12.

“That’s why it’s so important to get concessions now,” Valentine said. “Now we have a structural deficit and to fix that problem, we have to reduce our expenditures in a way that recurs, which is through layoffs and concessions.”

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