Clark County panel says salaries unsustainable |

Clark County panel says salaries unsustainable

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Salaries and benefits being paid to Clark County employees are unsustainable in the weak economy and should be re-evaluated, according to a preliminary report by a citizens advisory panel.

The Citizens Committee on Community Priorities is scheduled to meet Jan. 7 to make final recommendations on how best to fill this year’s $60.7 million deficit, which is projected to reach $108.7 million in the next budget year.

“The only way to truly cut costs in a general fund of $1.5 billion when the payroll (is) over $1.2 billion is to cut staff, hours, salaries and/or benefits,” the report said.

The committee suggested several options for the money-losing University Medical Center, the valley’s public hospital, along with ways to give the county more control over setting several fees.

The report took particular aim at the Clark County Fire Department. It suggests reducing pay, benefits and overtime; creating a “brownout” plan showing which areas would get less service if cuts aren’t made; and a possible study on consolidating fire departments valleywide.

The report said $180,000 in average wages and benefits for firefighters is “outrageous.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday that the average compensation rose in 2008 to more than $199,000.

Other suggestions included charging parents or youngsters for juvenile probation and intake services; amending state law to allow reopening labor contracts during financial emergencies; and ending the practice of allowing employees to sell back unused sick leave.