Carson City job freeze thawing | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City job freeze thawing

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

More than half of the jobs frozen last month by the Carson City Board of Supervisors are filled or are likely to be filled because of concerns about public safety.

The board ordered all open jobs as of Oct. 19 not classified as “critical” to stay open for 120 days with the exception of deputies, fire fighters and dispatchers.

Supervisors planned to define what “critical” meant at Thursday’s board meeting, but the item was removed from the agenda because two of the five members were absent.

However, positions for street maintenance workers, Latch Key program aids, lifeguards, a public health nurse and an environmental control officer could be classified as “critical” and unfrozen at the Nov. 15 meeting, said City Manager Linda Ritter after Thursday’s meeting.

This would open 21 of 39 unfilled positions. The unfrozen jobs include the exceptions, one of which was added Thursday.

The board gave Carson City District Attorney Neil Rombardo permission at the meeting to hire a coordinator who will help victims and witnesses through the legal system.

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Attorneys in his office have a 33 percent higher case load than the national average, Rombardo said, and they have to do a coordinator’s job in addition to that.

This new position is critical to the public, he said after the meeting, because his office might get so busy that it would have to make a plea bargain in cases that they’d rather take to trial.

“Right now I can’t point to any case (where that happened),” he said, “and I don’t want to have to.”

Rombardo and the supervisors agreed that hiring the coordinator as well as a deputy prosecutor previously scheduled to be hired was financially responsible because the district attorney’s office had saved $120,000 by leaving positions open and restructuring responsibilities.

Mayor Marv Teixeira, who proposed the job freeze, has said he doesn’t know exactly how much the job freeze will save the city, but that the board has the responsibility to make cuts to prepare for a slow market.

Sales taxes are down, he said, and if they don’t rise to projected levels for this financial year, the city could end up at least $638,000 short.

Freezing jobs now is better than cutting them later he said after the meeting, and those cuts “just throw your organization into a spin.”

Supervisor Shelly Aldean said the next step could be to ask city departments to make a contingency plan in the case that revenues this fiscal year continue to be flat.

Sales taxes were down about 4 percent in July from the previous year. The city based its budget on a 2.6 percent increase in sales taxes collections from 2006.

The Board also:

• Approved $150,000 for parks improvements including $40,000 for the urban fishing pond. The money is raised through a tax on residential construction and set aside specifically for the parks.

• Appointed Lyn Norberg to appraise the 406-acre Serpa property and the 470-acre Bently property. The properties are being looked at for possible inclusion in the city’s open space program.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.