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September 1, 2014

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Metro instituting hiring freeze, sheriff informs officers

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Leila Navidi

Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie speaks during an editorial board meeting with Las Vegas Sun staff inside his office in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2012.

Metro Police is instituting a hiring freeze as it faces a potential deficit of nearly $70 million in its 2013-14 budget.

An official announcement of the freeze is expected next week. It was first reported this week by KSNV-TV, which received a copy of a video message from Sheriff Doug Gillespie to Metro officers.

“I don’t want to hire people today that, six months from now, I’m going to have to lay off. So as we have done before, I will be reinstituting a hiring freeze,” Gillespie said in the video.

Officer Bill Cassell, a Metro spokesman, said there had been no public announcement of the hiring freeze, but “we are not trying to deny it.” He said a Metro Police Corrections Academy currently under way would continue, but a Metro Police Academy scheduled for July would be canceled.

In the video message, Gillespie reiterated his intention that there would be no layoffs to deal with Metro’s budget deficit.

“We’re not going to attack it by laying people off,” Gillespie said. “That doesn’t help this organization. That doesn’t help this community. It doesn’t help the other things we do.”

The city of Las Vegas and Clark County share responsibility for the bulk of Metro’s budget, which is approximately half a billion dollars annually. The city each year has to come up with 40 percent of Metro’s budget that isn’t covered by self-generated revenues. The county comes up with the other 60 percent.

That also means that if Metro needs additional dollars to eliminate a deficit, the city will need to come up with 40 percent of the department’s needs.

Metro’s budget hole is expected to be anywhere between $50 million and $68 million.

“The problem is the county isn’t collecting more tax dollars,” County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said recently. “We’re still struggling.”

Metro had won sizable wage and benefits increases over much of the last three decades. The department’s budget increased about 10 percent annually for 25 years until 2010.

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  1. Perhaps a freeze on wages and benefits for a few years is in order.