North Las Vegas - Still without an accord for concession from public safety labor unions and only a few days before the state deadline to submit a balanced budget, City Manager Tim Hacker announced today that he will ask the City Council to suspend portions of those union contracts to save jobs and maintain service levels.
"We have sought reasonable concessions, but the unions have refused to come to terms. Now, we must take action,” Hacker said. “Public safety is our No. 1 objective. Without taking this action, we would be forced to lay off large numbers of police and fire fighters. We don’t want to take them off the streets, where we already are stretched thin, and could risk compromising the health, safety and welfare of the City's residents and businesses."
Hacker plans to present a resolution for council consideration during a special meeting set for 5 p.m. on June 1 at City Hall, 2250 Las Vegas Boulevard North.
If approved, the resolution would authorize the temporary suspension of certain terms of the City's existing collective bargaining agreements with the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association, the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local #1607. Those terms include the suspension of raises, holiday sell-back pay and uniform allowances.
State law authorizes the City of North Las Vegas to suspend certain terms of its collective bargaining agreements to remain solvent and protect public safety and welfare, while in the grips of an ongoing economic recession.
The City faces a June 1 deadline to submit a final budget to the state. The budget would go into effect July 1.
The City wants to avoid layoffs because its ratio of public safety workers to residents already is among the lowest in Southern Nevada. A further reduction in force would exacerbate the strain on these lean departments.
The City’s declining tax revenue has been among the most severe in the nation. Property tax revenues declined by 37.1 percent, from a high of $62 million in 2009, to an estimated $39 million in 2012.
Similarly, consolidated tax revenue declined by 30 percent from a high of $54 million in 2006 to about $38 million in 2012. At the same time, labor costs have continued to increase, largely due to automatic cost-of-living increases and other benefits specified in the City’s collective bargaining agreements.
The City has taken a number of steps over the past few years to stabilize its financial position and reduce costs, including across-the-board budget cuts, combining departments, reducing hours of operation, and restructuring various bonds and long-term debts. Since 2009, the City cut or froze more than 800 positions.
In January 2012, the City of North Las Vegas began discussions with its public safety unions for concessions aimed at keeping labor costs flat - thus reducing the projected deficit and keeping police and fire fighters on the job. To date, those efforts have been unsuccessful.
The City of North Las Vegas will continue to negotiate with the POA, PSA and IAFF #1607 to amend the collective bargaining agreements and create a more sustainable budget plan. The City must do everything in its power to remain solvent and to preserve and protect the health, safety and welfare of the City’s residents and businesses.