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October 30, 2014

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NLV City Council again delays action on firefighter contract

The North Las Vegas City Council voted Wednesday to once again postpone taking action on a tentative agreement with the firefighters union, pending results from a city audit of firefighter sick-day use and overtime expected to be released next week.

The tentative agreement between the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1607 would save the jobs of 33 firefighters by barring union layoffs during the contract period in exchange for $3 million in concessions.

In early February, the City Council voted to conduct an audit of the fire department after Clark County officials reported widespread abuse of sick leave by county firefighters.

The North Las Vegas firefighters union maintains there is no sick day or overtime abuse by city firefighters. An internal department audit conducted Feb. 1 found that North Las Vegas firefighters take an average of 4.3 sick days each year, about half the national average of 8.5 days per year, according to the union.

In 2010, 54 percent of firefighters took five days or fewer of sick leave, 36 percent took three days or fewer and about 10 percent of firefighters took no days of sick leave, according to the internal audit.

On Wednesday night, council members voted 4-1 to postpone action on the tentative agreement until the May 4 council meeting. Councilman William Robinson was the sole dissenter.

Fire department overtime in the valley has come under scrutiny during the economic downturn as municipalities continue to look for ways to cut spending to balance their budgets.

North Las Vegas officials will discuss state revenue projections from property taxes during a budget workshop on Thursday and issue an updated financial status. In February, city officials reported the budget deficit as high as $25 million.

City Council members said they would re-evaluate the tentative agreement with the firefighters union in May, with the audit results and new budget projections in mind.

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