Las Vegas Sun

August 1, 2014

Currently: 89° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

the economy:

Las Vegas government pay raises called ‘wrong thing to do’

One city employee, earning $121,000, got $25,000 bump

Coroner's Inquest

A federal judge says there's nothing unconstitutional about cops getting grilled during inquests into fatal police shootings. That's the word in the order from a federal judge, but the attorney for the cops is appealing. We'll talk to the attorney representing the cops. Plus, peace officers at the City of Las Vegas say they're being shafted while city management prospers. Are they right? We'll hear from city manager Betsy Fretwell and a union official.

Pay increases given to 42 Las Vegas city employees is raising some eyebrows as the cash-strapped city deals with a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.

The city recently gave employees identified in a salary compensation study pay increases averaging $6,302 a year.

The largest: $25,179 to an engineering program manager whose base annual salary is now $121,566.

The smallest: a $2,291 increase to an office specialist, who now makes $48,108 a year.

In total, $264,677 dollars in pay increases were given.

The controversy over the growing salaries was brought to the public’s attention when the Las Vegas Peace Officers Association ran a newspaper ad accusing the city of “crying poverty” while giving out raises.

Click to enlarge photo

Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell in her office at City Hall.

Chris Collins, executive director of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which recently granted several concessions in a contract with the city, said raising the pay of select employees “was the wrong thing to do.”

“If I were city manager, I would have said to those people ‘you’re going to get a raise when everybody else gets a raise,’ ” Collins said.

City spokesman David Riggleman argued that the increases were not raises, rather “adjustments” to improve pay equity.

Riggleman said the pay increases came about after a classification and compensation study and were given to bring salaries in line with the market and ensure supervisors did not earn less than their subordinates.

Riggleman said none of the salary adjustments went to department heads or senior executives, and that management and administration employees in the city have not seen a raise in more than three years.

The city has cut $115 million in expenditures over three years from its general fund — which is used to pay employee salaries — through cost-savings, pay cuts, union concessions and layoffs. The city is still projecting a $7 million deficit in its general fund for the upcoming fiscal year.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak

While several unions have agreed to concessions, Collins, of the police officers union, said the raises were given without much public scrutiny.

The city’s actions, Collins said, could make future union negotiations more difficult and undermine taxpayers’ confidence in government. “Services are being cut, hours are being cut and you’re crying poverty yet you have the ability to give these people raises?” he said.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said the city’s pay increases could make things more difficult for Clark County, as its employees compare salaries and request raises of their own.

“One of the important things is we do have to treat each other fairly,” Sisolak said. “When you give raises to one group, I don’t know how you can go to another and ask for concessions.”

Sisolak said he respects the city’s authority to budget how it sees fit but that similar raises would not happen at the county. “I can tell you in the county we don’t have the money to do what they did,” he said.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 10 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Right Hack! The teachers are being thrown under the bus and the Super just hired himself a Chief of Staff! Not only that, each new Performance Zone has a new Ombudsman to 'handle' parent complaints, which any principal can and supposed to handle.

    Everything is honky dory for those in the upper class, but there is no money for the peons. Toil on peons and be glad the powers that be even let you have a job. How dare you dream!

  2. 48,000 a year for an office specialist? I have a bachelors degree, am a Nevada Certified Environmental Manager, a licensed Asbestos inspector and have 23 years industry experience, and 12 years here in the valley. As a result of the economy, I now make 45,000 a year just to stay employed. City government employees make more than enough when compared with the same private sector individuals, and if raises are coming, there needs to be enough to go around, NOT just for a select few.

  3. "Chris Collins, executive director of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which recently granted several concessions in a contract with the city, said raising the pay of select employees "was the wrong thing to do."

    Collins has a good point. To employees' unions who gave concessions this is outrageous. The city apologist's "management and administration employees in the city have not seen a raise in more than three years" shows just how out of touch with reality these parasites are. In a city where the average person struggles at a subsistence level, where one of its #1 designations is the galactic central of home foreclosures, the budget ax needs to start chopping.

    "Government . . . an illusion the governed should not encourage." -- John Updike "Couples"

  4. With this one example this article is just turning worker against worker instead of focusing our attention on those in power who are trying to lower our (your) salaries so they can make more in profit.

  5. At this time, No one should get a raise, not one stinken penny. Those of us who have jobs should be on their knees, think the LORD for, having what they have. For our city leaders to belly-up to a raise. They should be on their knees, asking the taxpayer for forgiveness. What a CROCK!!!!! You bunch of Robin Hoods, Santa Claus, City Managers, must make you feel real important, to give away something that does not belong to you. Remember this people come election time. "Vote these Damn Do Gooders, Out of Office"

  6. Mr. Keith,

    Don't be comparing them to Santa Claus. Santa has never taken from one to reward others.

    This was not a good move on the cities part at all. They are there to make the hard decisions, that is why we voted for them. They will not be liked by some when they say NO but in todays climate they had better learn that word and start using it.

  7. "after a classification and compensation study and were given to bring salaries in line with the market and ensure supervisors did not earn less than their subordinates."

    I wonder how much this study cost........

  8. a $25K raise for an engineering program manager? How many engineering program manager types are out there that would have done the same job for a near $100K salary (the previous salary of the recipient)?

    Having just moved out here from CT, I can see that somethings just dont change.

    T

    PS> Going to see my private sector HR department tomorrow and ask for an "ADJUSTMENT." I'll get back to you with the results.

  9. "the increases were not raises, rather "adjustments" to improve pay equity."

    This is how management treats reality - if it gets in the way, just dream up a softer illusion described by synonyms and tell people that they don't understand what is clearly visible. The operating instructions come from the first course: American Management 101.

  10. Creative accounting at its best.

    Time to VOTE anyone OUT who prescribes to such tactics during a recession/depression.

    These folks are a part of the problem, rather part of the cure. They are doing HARM to citizens and the American public.

    SHAME SHAME SHAME

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star