Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 | 8:06 p.m.
The North Las Vegas City Council voted 3-2 to approve a new contract with the North Las Vegas firefighters union tonight, in hopes of saving up to $640,000.
The new memorandum of understanding, ratified last week by members of the International Association of Firefighters Local #1607, renews the current contracts in place for both supervisory and nonsupervisory personnel.
Under the updated contract, good through the end of the fiscal year in June, the chief will have more discretion in the use of brownouts, the staffing of the air resource unit and restricting the number of battalion chiefs on annual leave at any given time.
The city will not reimburse employees’ monthly contribution to their health care plan from August 2011 through the end of February 2012 and the union will dismiss pending arbitration for health care with prejudice, according to city officials.
The 5 percent pay cut firefighters took last year will also be restored, at least until a new deal is reached at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
After the vote, Mayor Shari Buck thanked firefighters for continuing to give concessions, but Councilwoman Anita Wood, who voted against the agreement, said it’s just not enough.
“Other than the health care issue, there was nothing in there that was new,” Wood said. “There was nothing in there that we’re not doing right now. It’s creating an imbalance between the unions which I don’t think is helpful for the city.”
Wood said police and Teamsters unions have given more, with Teamsters still taking three weeks of unpaid furlough days.
Councilman Robert Eliason, who also voted against the agreement, stressed that the city’s impending $15 million budget shortfall will more than likely grow.
In November, then-acting Finance Director Al Noyola said the majority of the budget gap was $12.3 million, which the city will pay when contracts with unions end this year.
“We’re talking $15 million that we know about ... it’s probably going to be a little more than that,” Eliason said. “We were hoping we could continue with what we had but we weren’t able to get that.”
Union President Jeff Hurley said firefighters have given almost nine concessions that have saved the city over $20 million.
“We’re committed to helping the city get through these difficult financial times and we’re positive about the city’s direction,” he said.
The city has less than five months to close the budget gap.