State’s largest police force still on hook for $1.5M in benefit subsidy |

State’s largest police force still on hook for $1.5M in benefit subsidy

Despite a Nevada Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, the head of the Public Employee Benefits Program said Thursday the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department still refuses to pay benefit subsidies for its retirees.

Over the past three years, PEBP has paid benefits to those workers so that they don’t lose coverage or have to pay thousands out of their own pockets. Leslie Johnstone said Metro now owes the state plan $1.5 million.

Metro took its case to the Nevada Supreme Court, arguing it should be exempt from paying that subsidy because their benefits were provided through a collectively bargained trust.

The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling in March that the 2005 law mandating the subsidies for retires was specifically designed to make groups like Metro pay a fair subsidy for their retirees in PEBP.

The law states that all local governments that send their retirees to the state plan must provide at least the same subsidy for their premiums as the state provides for its retirees.

PEBP financial officer John Hager told the board Thursday when they sent a letter asking Metro to pay up, the organization instead challenged the eligibility of 78 of the roughly 100 retired Metro officers in PEBP.

“They’re just drawing it out,” said Johnstone.

The board voted to ask the state Taxation Department to put the issue on the Local Government Finance Board agenda as soon as possible and ask that panel to request that Controller Kim Wallin withhold the $1.5 million from its next funding distribution to Metro.

In addition, the board will do the same with the city of Caliente, which has also refused to pay the subsidies. Caliente now owes the PEBP about $60,000.

The board also voted to authorize Johnstone to go to the taxation director if Metro and Caliente persist in refusing the pay the subsidies in the future.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.