Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2014

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Las Vegas budget remains unbalanced

Budget history

Las Vegas’ annual revenue fell almost 14 percent before hitting bottom in 2012. Since then, revenue is up $37 million.

Revenue/expenses

2008: $523 million/$514 million

2009: $499 million/$498 million

2010: $466 million/$480 million

2011: $454 million/$455 million

2012: $452 million/$459 million

2013: $471 million/$461 million

2014: $467 million/$474 million

2015: $489 million/$498 million

Source: City of Las Vegas

The Las Vegas city budget got busted in the recession.

The number of tourists visiting the city dropped and tax revenue fell. To keep pace with a $71 million decrease in revenue over four years, City Manager Betsy Fretwell laid off workers and left positions vacant.

But the city’s 2015 budget, approved last week, shows the city continues its comeback.

The city of about 600,000 residents is hiring again, and revenue is projected to reach its highest level since 2009. Officials plan to add more police officers and open a new fire station in the upcoming budget year that begins July 1.

Even with the growing revenue, the city will need to tap its $100 million reserve to find $9 million to balance the budget, a requirement under state law.

It is “still a holding-the-line budget,” Councilman Bob Coffin said. “We don’t have nearly enough employees to address needs right now, as the city has grown since the recession.”

Where does the city’s revenue come from?

A little more than half of the city’s money — $253 million — comes from sales taxes. The city gets another $91 million from property taxes and $81 million from license and franchise fees.

Where does the money go?

About half of Las Vegas’ money goes to salaries and benefits, and a quarter pays for Metro police services. About 17 percent goes to supplies and 3.5 percent to pay off debt.

The city’s bill to Metro will grow by 6 percent, to $128 million, next year. The city spends two-thirds of its money on public safety and 9 percent on culture and recreation.

More staff, new buildings

The city will hire 41 new employees, including 30 in public safety. Fretwell said the city also will build a new fire station, expand the jail and add staff.

The fire department will hire 12 firefighters for a new station near Bonanza Road at Lamb Boulevard. The $6.7 million building is expected to open this summer to serve the growing number of emergency calls on the city’s eastern edge, city spokesman Jace Radke said.

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