Lawmakers seek raise in juvenile center budgets

Members of the legislative money committees decided Wednesday they want to add some of the state's surplus to regional juvenile centers at Spring Mountain in Clark County and China Spring in Douglas County.

Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said both facilities serve a valuable function.

"This is a year where everybody's talking about this extra money, and I think this should be a high priority to augment the budget for these two facilities," he said.

Subcommittee chairwoman Sheila Leslie, D-Sparks, and Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, agreed the juvenile facilities, which handle less serious young offenders, need more funding - especially Spring Mountain, which doesn't receive formula funding from the state. China Spring gets about one-third of its budget from the state, with most of the rest in fees from the counties which send troubled youngsters there.

Kirby Burgess, who runs the Clark County juvenile programs, said they have requested $1.4 million over the biennium to cover additional services, including aftercare and re-entry into the community. Spring Mountain is now getting $342,000 a year from the state.

District Judge David Gamble, who helps oversee operations at China Spring and the adjacent girls' facility, Aurora Pines, said they are seeking a $363,976 enhancement this session.

But Raggio suggested lawmakers may want to put more money into the programs.

"With flat support from the state, it's impossible to meet merit salary increases; utility and food costs have gone up," he said. "I think we really need to look at some augmentation for both these facilities."

Giunchigliani said her only reservation is that while the state has surplus money this session, it might not in the future, and she doesn't want to get committed to a huge ongoing funding requirement.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said the committees should look more at one-shot appropriations to help the two facilities.

The subcommittee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means members agreed to hold the budgets while they look at possible additions to the camp budgets.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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