Published Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 | 2:23 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 | 5:35 p.m.
North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck’s State of the City address today focused on rebuilding.
Speaking at the Texas Station convention center underneath a backdrop of construction tools, Buck began by addressing the difficulties of 2012.
“To be honest, you all know this has been a time of challenge, a time of change,” Buck said in her speech. “But we are confident we can begin to rebuild our city.”
Last year, the city entered the New Year facing a budget gap exceeding $30 million. After stalled negotiations with its police, firefighter and teamster unions, the city council voted unanimously to declare a state of fiscal emergency.
The unprecedented decision allowed City Manager Tim Hacker to force concessions on the unions to close the gap. They shut down the North Las Vegas Detention Center, laid off 108 city employees, limited overtime hours for firefighters and shortened days that libraries and recreation centers would be open.
While a difficult decision, Buck assured residents the move paved the way for a more stable future.
She said the city’s troubles are not completely behind it. At the start of 2013, the city’s property tax revenue is declining for the fourth straight year, and it will need to ask its unions to once again forego pay raises.
But Buck reassured residents that a return to prosperity was on its way.
“We’re stable right now,” Buck said. “We expect next year we will still see the economic downturn with a little light at the end of the tunnel as the economy is coming back.”
She cited companies such as DaVita, Flexible Foam, Chelyon House and ViaWest moving into the city creating more than 175 jobs with them. She also said other large employers have purchased land space in North Las Vegas, but she could not yet announce them.
Buck added that the city is improving its infrastructure through an ordinance that forces banks that own foreclosed homes to pay a fee to maintain upkeep of the residence and projects like the North 5th Street Arterial Project.
After the speech, 16-year North Las Vegas resident Rita Langford felt optimistic about the future of the city. She felt comforted by the city’s commitment to improve blighted property and maintain its emergency services.
Seven-year resident Debbie Patton said she thought the city is moving in the right direction.
“I felt it was a positive message,” Patton said. “That’s what we need to hear.”
Still, not everyone was won over by the mayor’s speech. Dean Longmore, who works in North Las Vegas, said he appreciated the improvements the city is making, but he wanted to know more about what the city had in store for 2013.
“What I was looking to see is what future projects the city is planning to undertake,” Longmore said. “She did not talk much about the future.”
North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association President Leonard Cardinale felt Buck failed to address the shortage of firefighters and police officers in the city.
“The mayor is trying to make it seem very positive and business friendly — and North Las Vegas is — but we want to know how you can declare a state of emergency … and at the same time say the city is stable?,” Cardinale said.
While the city hasn’t completely bounced back from the recession, Buck said, she is confident a solid foundation for recovery has been set for the city to rebuild out of the rubble.