Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | 12:05 a.m.
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Emotions were high during a special meeting Tuesday night as the North Las Vegas City Council approved a budget that would call for about 200 police, firefighters and Teamsters Union members to lose jobs if concession agreements aren’t made.
“We are going to balance our budget, we’re going to live within our means and it hurts,” Mayor Shari Buck said. “We’re going to vote on unfortunately passing out pink slips if it comes to that.”
The mayor and four city council members voted unanimously to proceed with a budget due on June 1. The budget without concessions would include more than 200 layoffs.
An estimated 57 firefighters, 100 city police department employees and about 60 additional city workers would get pink slips in the next two weeks if concession agreements with four union groups aren’t settled.
“There’s not one city council member up here who wants to lay anybody off,” said the mayor, in an emotional tone. “You lay off a person, you lay off a family.”
North Las Vegas leaders say a down economy, high foreclosures and unemployment rates have all caused revenue streams, such as property taxes, to dry up — leaving the city with a $33 million budget gap for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2013.
“It’ll be a crawl, not a sprint, to recovery,” said City Manager Tim Hacker.
The city is asking for a two-year freeze on annual raises, which includes no merit-based raises or cost of living increases. The concessions would also abolish a program that enables employees to sell back their holiday time, putting a stop to uniform allowances and asking administrators to maximize efficiencies.
So far the unions have not accepted the agreements.
“There seems to be no plan after four years of concessions,” said Leonard Cardinale, president of the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association, whose organization is still in talks with the city.
The local Teamsters Union members have voted against the proposed concessions. The International Association of Firefighters Local 1607 did not meet a consensus and asked for the city to consolidate their department into any other nearby fire departments. The North Las Vegas Police Officers Association also lacked a consensus.
“It’s up to our employees,” the mayor said. “I think what we’re asking for is reasonable.”
Union leaders were disappointed with the council’s decision.
Mike Yarter, president of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association said, “They’re defrauding taxpayers of North Las Vegas.”
Yarter, a detective of the North Las Vegas Police Department said there are positions that the city is budgeting for that have been empty since July 2011. Positions he said aren’t intended to be filled.
“Whatever the concessions they’re asking for don’t even come close to the $33 million,” Yarter said.
During the special meeting, other cuts to the city’s budget were expressed including cuts to North Las Vegas Library fund and the SafeKey fund, which supports an after-school program for children.