Wednesday, June 5, 2013 | 10:45 p.m.
The North Las Vegas City Council decided Wednesday to postpone a vote on a resolution declaring a state of financial emergency for a second year in a row to close its budget deficit.
The issue: Not much has changed from last year, although this time the resolution did not come as a surprise to the unions. Last year the city used the resolution to declare a state of financial emergency to force concessions on the unions to help the city close a $30 million budget deficit after stalled negotiations. This year the city faces an $18 million budget deficit, and once again it has been unable to reach an agreement with its unions before the July 1 deadline. With the city already operating at bare-bones staffing levels, it can’t afford to cut employees — its only other option beyond the resolution.
The city did receive a slight financial boost in the waning hours of the Nevada Legislature with the passing of a bill that would allow it to use excess water and sewer utility funds for its general fund. Still, City Manager Tim Hacker doesn’t expect that to exceed more than $4.5 million — enough to restore some services, but not close the deficit.
Decision: Postponed until June 18 city council meeting.
What it means: The decision to table voting on the resolution for one city council meeting appears to only be delaying the inevitable. Hacker said the city promised Nevada legislators to postpone voting on the resolution to determine what impact the bill, if passed, would have on the city. Negotiations with unions are ongoing, but Hacker does not believe there is enough time for an agreement to be reached by the July 1 deadline, when actions to balance the budget must be finalized. The city council will vote on the resolution on June 18. If approved, the concessions involve limiting salary increases and certain benefits in the unions’ contracts to close the budget deficit. No one would be laid off.
Meanwhile, the unions will continue to work to resolve lawsuits filed last year against the city for the same resolution. At least one union — the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Union — said it will file its second lawsuit if the resolution is passed. Until then, the supervisors union said it is still open for negotiations with the city.