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December 20, 2014

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North Las Vegas OKs budget cuts that include job losses

Unions could halt some cuts with concessions

The North Las Vegas City Council approved a budget plan Monday evening that will cut $35.1 million from the city’s budget by July 1, 2012.

The cuts, which would include the loss of 251 full-time positions if unions don't agree to concessions, were supported by council members Robert Eliason, Richard Cherchio and Anita Wood, and Mayor Pro Tem William Robinson. Mayor Shari Buck voted against the cuts.

The 251 positions include some that already are vacant and others that were eliminated during a buy-out period for staffers, Acting City Manager Maryann Ustick said during a presentation. Of those, 71 positions were in public safety and 144.5 were teamsters union positions.

On Thursday, the city reached a tentative agreement with Teamsters Local 14, which, if ratified by the union’s members Nov. 4, would save the teamster jobs in question until 2012.

The council also approved an item Monday night – again with one dissenting vote from Buck – that would allow the city manager to begin the budget reduction process. That means sending out pink slips.

However, the positions could be saved if the city’s police and fire unions also return to the table, Wood said.

“I think we’re going to get there,” she said of the union negotiations. “The teamsters are the largest one by far, and I think they’re going to work it out.”

“It’s a really hard thing to do,” Wood said of Buck’s dissenting vote. “The last thing you’re going to want to do is this … but we need to do what we need to do.”

Cherchio, who was a union president for mail carriers in Florida for 23 years, said he understood the unions were in a tough spot. But, he said, it’s ultimately their job to do what’s best for the city’s residents.

“We all have a common goal, and that’s service to the public,” he said. “We needed to make this decision and get it out of the way. We had to stop the bleeding.”

Buck said she voted against the budget reduction plan because it threatened to cut public safety jobs. The cuts, she said, should come from somewhere else.

“I believe my top job as mayor is to keep citizens safe,” she said. “When we have four murders in one week, I have concerns.”

Buck cited an online survey she conducted as part of a town hall as proof that citizens want to save public safety jobs. She said her online survey, which was meant to ask citizens where they wanted to see cuts, had 750 respondents who overwhelmingly said public safety was their “top priority.”

That survey was denounced by the city’s other four council members, three of whom said it was like asking the city’s residents to give up something so unions wouldn’t have to.

The budget reduction plan had to be drafted, Wood said, so the unions could see how difficult cuts would be. That has motivated them to step up, she said.

Wood said she feared that if public safety was all that wasn’t cut, North Las Vegas would be left as a “police state.”

“We want to make sure we can all enjoy life here when business bounces back,” she said.

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  1. Chunky says:

    Tough decisions in a tough economy! Good to see someone in government willing to make them!

    That's what Chunky thinks!