During a special meeting today, the Las Vegas City Council adopted a final budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. The budget will mean approximately 200 layoffs, about 60 more than first projected in March, and will address a shortfall of around $80 million.
The city has been unable to negotiate concessions from its four unions. Contractually, this means the city must continue to grant automatic pay raises and cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to those in the bargaining units. In short, the cost of labor will continue to climb, while city revenues continue to fall.
For more than six months, the city of Las Vegas has been gathering feedback from the public on the best ways to cope with an ever-increasing budget shortfall. Through 13 town hall meetings, a phone survey and focus groups the public told the city how it should deal with the budget woes. Based on that input, the council approved the following cuts:
- Rolling “brown outs” in the fire department, where at least three units taken out of service each day to save money. Initial response times won’t be impacted.
- Eliminating 12 city marshals in January.
- Scaling back the Victim Witness Program.
- Eliminating the Leisure On The Go Program and the “Xtreme” Sports Unit.
- Increasing some fees and fines in the Municipal Court.
- Reducing regular maintenance of sports fields. This could mean displacement of some youth leagues.
- A downsizing of our records management team. This could mean delays in obtaining city documents.
- Privatizing the Amanda and Stacy Darling Tennis Center.
- Closing Community Schools. Safekey and track break/summer camps will remain but with increased fees.
One of the changes from the city manager’s initial recommendations includes the restoration of funding to the city jail. There had been a previous recommendation to reduce the number of available beds.
On March 10, the council approved a tentative budget to address a shortfall in Fiscal Year 2011. Due to a slumping local economy, what was projected to be a $70 million shortfall has grown to about $80 million. In order to balance the budget and to gain a head start on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, an additional $16.8 million in cuts were approved at today’s hearing. Unlike the federal government, the city cannot operate at a deficit, and must submit a balanced budget to the state each year.
The city is looking at about a $50 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2012, which begins July 1, 2011. In light of the shortfall, the council today discussed the concept of creating the vision for a “new city.” Over the next six months, the city staff will work to build several new models of what a “new” city organization will look like based on smaller revenues and continued service delivery priorities. This will include creating a comprehensive list of potential reductions. The community will be involved in the process once again.
A full list of the final cuts will be available on the city’s Web site at www.lasvegasnevada.gov/yourcity.