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Las Vegas Budget Gap

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AIR DATE: March 17, 2010

The City of Las Vegas unveiled its budget reduction plan to close the City of Las Vegas' budget gap a couple of weeks ago. The announcement from the city said the recommendations, if approved by the City Council, would result in the elimination of 215 full time positions and ultimately mean 171 current employees will be laid off through a reduction in the city's workforce.

The city's plan assumes no concessions from the unions. That, according to the City, means the only approach to balancing the budget is reductions in programs, services and staff. Mayor Oscar Goodman is asking for an 8% pay cut across the board and wants the unions to re-open their contracts.

Betsy Fretwell and Mayor Goodman will join us in studio to talk about the plan and what went down at the March 10th meeting.

Guests:
Betsy Fretwell, Las Vegas City Manager
Oscar Goodman, Mayor, City of Las Vegas
Steve Sebelius, Editor, Las Vegas City Life

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COMMENTS:
During the recession of the 1980s, in a the small town in northern Colorado, Hewlett-Packard needed to downsize. Their solution was the following: Everyone worked 4 days a week for 9 hours instead of 8. All employees then got a 3 day weekend. This meant that everyone was cut back 4 hours a week in work and pay, and this included the people at the very top. This translate to a 10% pay cut, for all. After two years HP recovered and tried to reset the schedule to the old 5 day a week 8 hour day. NO ONE wanted to change! Everyone found the extra hour of work on the 4 days a week a fine trade for a 3 day weekend. The employees reported being more rested on Monday, deeply pleased with the extra time to get domestic errands done on Friday, and spending more quality down time on the traditional Saturday and Sunday weekend! There are solutions. The key here was that even the big wigs at the top took the pay cut along with all the other employees.
LauraMar 15, 2010 00:00:00 AM
I applaud the City Manager for being communicative about the financial situation of the City. However, The City has neglected to mention to the public that it has conducted a "Class Comp Study" which will further reduce the pay of MOST City employees when implemented. The 2009 average City employee salary is a little less than $75,000, as published by Channel 8. If the City was only asking for 8% the collective bargaining unit memberships would probably be more inclined to support the request. But the City is asking for an 8% immediate reduction in wages, 0% merit increase, 0% Cost of Living Increase, and a freeze on longevity pay for two years with no promise of an increase after that time is elapsed, while eliminating positions AND is offering no promise to lay off employees. Nevada's unemployment rate is in double digits. Many City employees are married to the unemployed and simply cannot afford to take multiple reductions in wages. Just another thought. . .
StaceyMar 12, 2010 11:48:38 AM
Just to let you know, there are quite a number of city employees who are willing to accept pay cuts in order to save a number of jobs and services that might needlessly be cut and who feel they need to do their part for the city and taxpayers.
City EmployeeMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Just make the cuts already! The imbalance in salaries between the private sector and the public sector is sickening you are creating a elitist group of government workers.

There is a distinct issue with lack of transparency in city government that created this monster.

How can a firefighter that trains for only 20 weeks before employment have compensation rise to over 250,000.00 plus benefits and early retirement, while a teacher that trains for 5 to 10 years makes 50,000?

JTMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
OK so we understand about city hall. But don't you think it is inappropriate that you are building a multi-million dollar facility and you are laying off people.
DebiMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Forgive my ignorance, but please explain how the unions have so much power given that we are a right to work state?
DonnaMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Ms. Fretwell - Channel 8 published the 2009 salaries that show that the average salary was less than $75,000 not $100,000. In addition that list showed there was a number of large salary amounts for people like Doug Selby that are no longer with the city. The impacts do not seem to be being stated accurately. Please look into this and inform the Mayor so that he can stop acting like the loss of $5-6K (8% of current salaries at the $75K average for last year) for regular employees (not fire fighters or executives who make the most) which make up the bulk of the work force is significant and can be the difference between keeping their homes, paying for the children's education, and meeting their other obligations.
AnonymousMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Instead of laying off employees why doesn't the Mayor just freeze everyone's income for one year. What they don't have they not miss. But taking 8% plus COLA, steps and freezing longevity is about 24% of everyone's wages.
LindaMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Just for your information, not everyone in the City makes $100,000.00. Some of us don't even make $50,000.00. The People that make over $100,000.00 should get a 10% percent reduction of their salaries. The ones that make less than $50,000.00 should get only a 5% to 6% percent reduction.

Most of the people in the fire department and management really make that much money, but not us!

They can't just generalize that everyone makes that much money, WHEN IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!

NoraMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Thank you for listening to the people you represent, and listening to their pleas for preserving our cultural entities.

Now I hear the Libraries are in danger. What can the citizens, and what can you do to stop the rape of the one service that unemployed workers, our youth, and our seniors need the most right now: free and accessible information through the library system?????

DianeMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Mr Goodman - Well done! At long last someone is coming up with tough yes practical decisions. What would the public or employees have him do? Seriously, what? Keeping people employed because it is the humane thing to do goes contrary to the very idea of Capitalism - you have to do what makes sense for the community and reducing pay and/or work weeks makes sense in this economy.

Well done!

TandiMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
I think the politicians are wrong in thinking all citizens are against taxes. I would rather pay more taxes, and have services. than the other way around. While living for 10 years in the U.K. I paid a third of my wages in taxes and enjoyed free college education, free medical, dental and vision, and 2 mail deliveries a day....and I took full advantage of all those and many other wonderful social services.

I do not want to be the one responsible for inspecting meat, repairing bridges, or controlling air space. How can I pay more taxes, and live in a country with safe food, safe roads, with smart and healthy neighbors.

DianeMar 12, 2010 00:00:00 AM
Why aren't they including ALL city employees?? I resent the implication that some jobs are more important than others! MOST employees that this will effect are NOT making $100,000! The Mayor is using numbers that don't reflect the MAJORITY of city workers!
anonymousMar 12, 2010 09:14:54 AM
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