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Betsy Fretwell
Betsy Fretwell

AIR DATE: November 11, 2010

City of Las Vegas officials say union employee wages are too high and they have the numbers to prove it.

A new personnel cost analysis from the city shows that in some cases wages for city employees are as much as 50% higher than comparable jobs elsewhere.

The Las Vegas City Employees Union, the city's largest labor union, says the numbers don't add up.

We talk with City Manager, Betsy Fretwell about the analysis and how it impacts future budget negotiations.

Betsy Fretwell, Las Vegas City Manager
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    Question #1: Is a 10% reduction in starting pay enough if the wage is still considerably higher than market average? Question #2: If there are hundreds or thousands of valley residents willing to take a job for market average, aren't we still gauging the taxpayers and doing them a disservice? Question #3: Private sector equivalent jobs do not offer pensions and full medical coverage. Aren't we gauging the taxpayers by continuing to pay higher long-term benefits than private sector equivalent jobs? (with retirement pensions it can equate to 100% more per employee).
    MattNov 10, 2010 09:37:45 AM
    She all but admitted that they didn't limit the comparison to cities of a comparable cost of living, but hand picked cities and regions that would compare city employees unfavorably.
    Arkady BogdonovNov 10, 2010 09:34:27 AM
    Who are you kidding, Ardaky? With the price of living now at an all-time low here, we still continue to pay as high as Los Angeles - who is still on the study list!!!
    MattNov 10, 2010 09:45:59 AM
    You are mistaken Matt, cost of living has not gone down at all in Vegas, what has gone down is the average household income. The reason being mostly attributable to the spike in the unemployment rate. You might be tempted to think that the massive drop in property values would drive down cost of living, but it actually hasn't had an appreciable affect on the actual cost of living, considering that most people's mortgages are still based on the original value of the home.
    ArkadyNov 10, 2010 10:17:41 AM
    You know what, let's table my last comment. I have been trying to quantify it with data, but I can't find a single source for historical cost of living data for Las Vegas. Our current cost of living index is exactly 100, but I can't find any data on what it was year to year leading up to the recession.
    ArkadyNov 10, 2010 10:58:02 AM
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