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July 29, 2014

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To reduce costs, NLV and Las Vegas agree to share services more widely

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Leila Navidi

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, left, and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee speak during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun in Henderson on Thursday, October 10, 2013.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman and John Lee

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee speaks during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun in Henderson on Thursday, October 10, 2013. Launch slideshow »

North Las Vegas and Las Vegas already share a border and a jail. Now the two cities will look at other areas — from park maintenance to business licensing to animal control — where they can partner up in an attempt to cut down on costs and be more efficient.

Officials from both cities unveiled the plan Thursday and will take action to formalize the partnership at their respective Nov. 6 meetings.

Officials were careful to avoid the word “consolidation” and the negative connotations that go with it, instead framing the arrangement as a “shared services agreement.”

“Las Vegas has a lot of expertise we can utilize,” North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee said. “It’s a new era in North Las Vegas. To continue to move forward with the same procedures and policies didn’t make sense to me.”

Threats of bankruptcy and a potential state takeover have surrounded the city of 230,000 in recent years, leading Lee to approach Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman shortly after taking office in July about finding ways for the cities to work together.

The potential for cost savings and increased revenues made the partnership attractive for North Las Vegas. Goodman said Las Vegas stands to benefit too from having a healthy neighbor to the north.

“It’s exploring the services that can be done with greater efficiency and greater sharing. It has huge potential for the future as we work through the basic issues ... and then move on to more complex issues,” Goodman said.

The cities will explore 11 areas to potentially share services, including economic development, redevelopment, finance and information technology.

Non-suppression fire services and support functions will also be looked at, but Lee said North Las Vegas would keep its own fire and police departments.

In fact, due to legal hurdles, no departments would be merged under the plan. Instead, the two cities will share staffing and knowledge in an attempt to better the fortunes of both.

The two cities already share jail services, with North Las Vegas inmates being held at the Las Vegas Detention Center since 2011. The agreement saves North Las Vegas $11 million per year from closing its own jail facility, while Las Vegas earns about $6 million extra per year, a mutually beneficial model officials hope to replicate with other services.

For instance, officials say that by pooling their purchasing power, both cities could realize big savings when shopping for supplies, vehicles or equipment.

Staffers from Las Vegas will also work with North Las Vegas department leaders to review work processes, share best practices and look for ways to be more efficient.

The cities will spend the next six months exploring where sharing services make sense, with final recommendations being presented in May. Much of the work will be done by an 11-member citizens advisory panel, which will have the help of an outside analysis of North Las Vegas’ finances that will be completed next month. The process will be shepherded by former Clark County manager Thom Reilly, who has been hired as a consultant by North Las Vegas on a seven-month, $45,000 contract.

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