LAS VEGAS – Taxpayers will save $4.2 million in the coming fiscal year thanks to a tentative agreement reached between Clark County and its firefighters union.
The agreement would result in contract savings of about 3 percent, of which 2.9 percent involves strictly compensation.
Combined with the contract settled in January for the current fiscal year, total savings over two years amount to 9.7 percent and $13.3 million annually. Changes in benefits for new employees will save an additional $630,000 per year going forward.
Representatives from Clark County and Local 1908 of the International Association of Firefighters today announced the tentative one-year contract for the fiscal year starting July 1. However, the contract must still be ratified by the County Commission and the union’s rank and file.
The negotiations, which began in February, were completed in the shortest span of time in recent memory, officials said.
“I’d like to thank the firefighters for their willingness to step forward and help the County address its budget deficit,” said Assistant County Manager Ed Finger, who headed the County’s negotiating team. “This is really a positive development in reducing our labor costs, not only for the duration of the contract, but over the long term, as well.”
Commissioner Mary Beth Scow agreed. “I’d like to commend the firefighters for coming forward with concessions and expediting the process,” she said. “In difficult times this is necessary in order to help us eliminate the County’s deficit.”
Commissioner Tom Collins also hailed the agreement: “I want to compliment the cooperation and expediency of both sides working together to help our Clark County citizens have a more secure community.”
Changes to the contract include a 1.5-percent wage reduction, reductions in vacation and sick leave accruals, a freeze on increases in longevity pay and tuition reimbursement, and reductions in premium pay, remote pay and bonus leave for new employees.
The contract award, which affects the 741 employees covered under the agreement with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1908, the County’s second-largest union, covers the period from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012.
Today’s announcement helps the County deal with an ongoing budget deficit due to declining revenues primarily in property taxes, which comprise about one-third of the General Fund, and “consolidated taxes,” which consist mostly of sale taxes. The County will be eliminating about 200 positions in the coming weeks and laying off 83 employees, part of a third round of budget reductions instituted in recent years that reduces a $100 million budget deficit to about $50 million. The new firefighter contract reduces that burden further, though the County will need to make additional cuts in the coming year. The Commission is set to approve a final General Fund budget of $1.2 billion on May 17.