NORTH LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The budget crisis in North Las Vegas has been officially upgraded by city leaders to an emergency. News 3’s Mackenzie Warren has more on the situation.
North Las Vegas leaders call it a "last resort,” while union leaders call it "desperate.” If a deal is not reached in the next nine days, 217 city jobs—most of them public safety positions—will be cut, which city officials say could send North Las Vegas into a crisis. City Manager Tim Hacker says if unions do not agree to freeze pay raises before June 1st city council could force the unions’ hand. Next Friday, council will consider axing certain parts of fire and police contracts.
“It definitely could create a civil disorder,” says Hacker. “If the courts have already indicated that a further reduction in staffing is going to produce a threat to the public safety and welfare [then] we take that quite seriously.” Hacker says Nevada law gives city leaders this leeway, pointing to NRS 288.150(4)
The statute, in part, reads:
"A local government employer is entitled to take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out its responsibilities in situations of emergency.....such as a riot, military action, natural disaster or civil disorder."
Leonard Cardinale, President of the Police Supervisors’ Association union, calls it a bogus application of Nevada law. “I don’t think [the NRS] really applies to having a financial crisis,” says Cardinale.
“I absolutely was not expecting this and I’ll tell you why: I was not expecting this, because this is not the best way to manage a city on behalf of your citizens.” Cardinale says he's tired of the games—quoting city leaders who said at last week's public meeting “massive layoffs would not lead to any declined public safety so now they're saying the opposite.”
Mayor Shari Buck called News 3 last week to say a state takeover was not a real possibility. We asked Hacker what changed since that phone call to declare a public safety emergency. “Nothing's changed as far as the state takeover,” Hacker answered. “What has changed is that we are to a point just several days out from a June 1st deadline.”
And with no concessions from unions to close a $33 million dollar hole, Hacker says this is the final plea.
“We don’t think it's unreasonable for [unions] to come back and work with us so we can avoid this.”