Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 | 7:32 p.m.
In an effort to make an initiative and keep up with a promise she made in her State of the City address, North Las Vegas Mayor Sheri Buck called a meeting of the new mayor’s economic advisory committee Tuesday night.
The 15-member committee — made of up of local professionals like Cox Communications Vice President of Public Affairs Steve Schorr, John Restrepo of RCG Economics and Suzette LaGrange, senior vice president of industrial and office properties at Colliers International — came together for the first time to discuss North Las Vegas and its future.
“It’s our first meeting to bring experts in to get feedback and advice to have us move forward,” Buck said.
The city has laid off hundreds of employees, battled with a budget shortfall for the past couple years and was even at risk for a state takeover of its finances. Last year the council voted to close the city’s recreation centers and pools to close the budget. Concessions from police and fire unions later halted the closures.
The city now faces a $15 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year.
City Manager Tim Hacker said the city is now “bottom-line oriented” and that despite hard economic times city officials are working to weather the storm.
The focus of the meeting, a presentation given by newly appointed Finance Director Al Zochowski, was the city’s consolidated tax allotment. Although the city’s population and assessed value has increased more than 30 percent, the tax distribution has stayed the same, according to Zochowski.
Buck said the current consolidated tax formula has shorted the city some $100 million that could have gone to jobs and city services in past years.
“That (money) would have helped us preserve those things,” Buck said.
Another focal point of the meeting was the declining reputation of North Las Vegas, which committee members agreed will present issues moving forward.
“The bigger issue is the image the community has right now and how are you going to change that,” Schorr said.
The committee plans to meet monthly and will continue to do so until they have made some headway, Buck said.
“There is no deadline,” she said, “until we accomplish our goals.”
The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for March 20 at 4 p.m. at the North Las Vegas City Hall, 2250 N. Las Vegas Blvd.