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July 31, 2014

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Goodman backs off proposal to fire, rehire city employees

After getting legal advice, mayor says mass layoffs could create problems

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman speaks during a news conference in his office at City Hall Monday, March 15, 2010. Goodman backed away from his proposal to fire all Las Vegas city employees, then rehire those who agree to work a shorter work week.

Updated Monday, March 15, 2010 | 5:09 p.m.

Goodman Ends Firing Plan

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman speaks during a news conference in his office at City Hall Monday, March 15, 2010. Goodman backed away from his proposal to fire all Las Vegas city employees, then rehire those who agree to work a shorter work week. Launch slideshow »

Mayor Oscar Goodman today backed away from his proposal for the city of Las Vegas to fire and then rehire city employees as a way to cut their pay by 8 percent a year over the next two years.

Instead, notices went out today to 146 city employees notifying them that they will be laid off at the end of the fiscal year, on June 30.

Goodman said he was advised by City Attorney Brad Jerbic that the city could indeed lay off the employees, but it wasn't clear that it had legal authority to fire all employees under a pre-conceived plan to rehire them.

The mayor said he also spoke with private attorneys who said if the city went ahead with his plan to fire so many employees it would be "death by a thousand cuts." Each fired employee could conceivably file suit against the city, forcing the government to spend untold thousands of dollars to defend the suits, the attorneys told him.

Goodman expressed disgust that the various employees unions representing city workers haven't accepted across-the-board 8 percent annual cuts to save the jobs of fellow employees.

"It makes me sick," the mayor said.

Las Vegas officials expect a budget shortfall of $70 million, followed by a deficit of $40 million in the next fiscal year.

Reducing a 40-hour week to 37.5 hours would save 6.25 percent and reducing it to 36 hours would create a savings of 10 percent, Goodman said last week.

The mayor said he has also asked City Manager Betsy Fretwell to look at city firefighters' use of sick leave. On Sunday the Sun reported Las Vegas firefighters use 60 percent more sick leave than rank-and-file employees.

Those numbers parallel a recent Clark County compensation study showing county firefighters call in sick almost twice as often as rank-and-file employees and about four times the rate of management.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak has claimed the figures show county firefighters are gaming the payroll system because those calling in sick are replaced by colleagues who are paid overtime.

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