North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck is defending her unusual declaration of a fiscal state of emergency to help balance the city’s budget, which has led to charges that she is trying to bust the city workers’ union by freezing salaries without negotiations.
“It really has nothing to do with busting unions,” the Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Tuesday.” “It has to do with the inherent duty that the city council has to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens, and to move out city forward in a positive direction.”
North Las Vegas, like a lot of other cities around the country, is struggling to adjust to what Buck described as “a perfect storm” of economic disaster. The city is facing a $30 million budget hole, brought on by the housing market falling apart, a high unemployment rate that remains at 14 percent, and decreasing tax revenues.
“It has just been the perfect storm in our city,” she said.
By declaring a state of emergency — usually reserved for natural disasters — the city has been able to impose a freeze on worker salaries, overtime pay, and uniform raises to help reduce its spending outlays while still maintaining local services for residents.
But some residents in the city that usually leans Democratic are complaining, nonetheless, and city workers are suing.
“They were not willing to make concessions,” said of the workers’ union. “They continue to want their raises and their uniform allowances, so we have taken this measure to suspend those portions of their contract,” she said.
Those actions, she added, have helped the city pay all its bills this year. But if the lawsuit is successful, she said it would mean layoffs.
“We want to keep them employed. They’re good employees,” Buck said. “The problem is the salaries are unsustainable. The benefits are unsustainable. And we've got to get them under control.”
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