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December 19, 2014

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City approves pay cuts for Las Vegas corrections officers

New contract expected to produce $3.6 million in savings to city over two years

The Las Vegas City Council today formally approved a new contract with the union that represents city corrections officers -- showing that the city has turned the corner on its one-time bleak fiscal picture.

"It showed true leadership, true teamwork and a willingness to get this city to survive and back on track to thriving," City Manager Betsy Fretwell told the council.

Fretwell said the city still has much to do to make improvements in its budget picture.

"But my gosh, we're looking at a forecast of a $66 million structural deficit (over the next five years) instead of one that is $270 (million)," she said. "And at one point, we were talking about it being much higher than that."

The council voted unanimously to approve the contract, which includes wage rollbacks of 1.5 percent in 2011 and another 1.5 percent in 2012 for the 200 employees represented by the Las Vegas Peace Officers Association.

The POA agreement, which was ratified by its members on Nov. 8, will save the city more than $3.6 million during the next two years.

Besides rolling back wages in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the agreement also calls for suspending step increases and cost of living adjustments for two years, freezing longevity pay for two years and ending allowances for uniforms.

Also, new employees hired after June 2011 will start at a lower wage scale and also see a reduction in steps. New employees will also pay half of their contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System. The city currently pays all PERS contributions to other employees.

Fretwell said the new wage and benefit structure contained in the LVPOA agreement will need to be integrated into the future contracts of other employees unions in the future.

She said the reductions in salary will now make the city "more than competitive" with the private sector.

The wage rollbacks mean the city can save another $100,000 by not having to do a further study of the administrative functions of the jail to see how competitive salaries are with the private sector, she said.

"And we give our employees quite a bit of security in this agreement for if things get worse and we have to go through an outsourcing process," she said.

Tracy Valenzuela, president of the LVPOA, said the resolve, determination and patience of her board and their membership has been "extraordinary" this year.

"I think there had been the perception that the POA was not willing to help the city obtain a sustainable future," she said. "We have always been willing to help."

She said their initial proposal included an overtime reduction, which was not acceptable to the city. Since that time, they implemented an overtime reduction plan and have been working with a reduced staff, which has had a substantial reduction in the overtime budget.

"None of these agreements have been easy to reach," Fretwell said. "And a lot of people have given up a lot to stabilize the city."

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