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August 29, 2014

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Commissioners OK $489 million budget for Metro Police

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Steve Marcus

Sheriff Doug Gillespie speaks on the Metro Police budget during a county commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

Updated Tuesday, April 16, 2013 | 6:40 p.m.

Gillespie Speaks About Metro Budget

Sheriff Doug Gillespie speaks on the Metro Police budget during a county commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Despite warnings of fewer police officers patrolling the streets, Clark County commissioners refused to support a $502 million budget request brought to them Tuesday by Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

The issue: Gillespie presented Metro Police’s budget request for the next fiscal year, which includes a $16 million increase in funding from Clark County.

The vote: Commissioners voted 5-2 to support a smaller proposed budget of $489 million for Metro Police. Commissioners Larry Brown and Lawrence Weekly voted in opposition.

What it means: Metro Police’s budget could be shrinking again, which Gillespie said would force him to cut positions. Gillespie said no officers would be laid off, instead vacant positions would be eliminated.

Metro Police is jointly funded through a combination of sales tax, property tax and contributions from Clark County and Las Vegas.

County commissioners Tuesday expressed a desire to support Metro Police and put more officers on the streets, but tough budget realities made funding the $502 million request unfeasible.

Under the smaller $489 million plan approved by commissioners, the county would contribute $198 million to Metro’s budget, an $8 million increase from last year. The increase would be paid for using new revenues the county expects to collect, County Manager Don Burnette said.

Funding Gillespie’s proposed budget would require an additional $8 million from the county, Burnette said, which would force cuts to other departments.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak said that with University Medical Center already facing an $87 million budget deficit, the county doesn’t have the money to significantly increase Metro’s funding.

“I think everyone has stretched their budget to the absolute limit in terms of what we can provide for Metro,” he said. “It’s not that we wouldn’t like to provide more, it’s just that there is no more to provide at this time.”

Metro Police will present its final budget for approval next week to the Fiscal Affairs Committee, a board of commissioners and Las Vegas city council members that oversees the agency.

The final budget must be approved by May 1, although it can be changed later on if new revenues become available.

One potential source of new revenue is a legislative bill that would allow for a sales tax increase of .15 cents in Clark County to hire more police officers. Commissioners also voted to support that bill 5-2 on Tuesday, with Commissioners Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani opposed.

Even if the bill passes the Legislature, it would require a two-thirds vote by the county commission before the sales tax increase is levied.

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