2019 Las Vegas budget adds 64 positions to workforce

Las Vegas Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Las Vegas City Council unanimously gave the green light Monday to a $1.5 billion budget that adds 64 positions to the city workforce, prioritizes programs for the homeless population and bumps up the Metropolitan Police Department’s funding.

Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, a member of the council since 2005, called the fiscal year 2019 budget the “finest year” in terms of funding initiatives that meet the council’s requests.

“It’s so responsive,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. “You really have listened and done everything working us toward the goals of this community.”

Metro, which the city and Clark County jointly fund, asked the city for a 6.6 percent increase, putting the city’s contribution at nearly $150 million.

The city and Clark County are also taking over funding crossing guards, and $1.7 million will transfer from Metro’s budget to the city’s budget. Over the next two years, the city will add 26 marshals to its force.

More than 67 percent of the city’s annual general fund dollars are devoted to public safety.

Initiatives aimed at curbing homelessness are a “key focus” in the budget, Chief Financial Officer Gary Ameling said.

The city is beginning its $10 million build-out of a homeless courtyard project intended to be a single location for homeless people to access a wide range of services. Seven new positions to support homeless programs will come into the city’s workforce during the next fiscal year.

“We’ll be able to start encouraging them away from their little encampments in parks and to a place of safety,” Councilman Bob Coffin said.

The city will spend more than $309 million on wages and benefits in the budget that takes effect July 1, up from roughly $293 million this year. The city workforce will grow to 2,654 full-time positions.

The city’s overall spending is growing by 4.5 percent. The city’s general fund spending will grow from $549 million to $574 million.

Upcoming city capital projects include a $15 million parking garage in the Medical District, a $12 million fire station replacement and a new downtown courthouse. After seeking bids for a new $55 million courthouse, officials said last year they weren’t moving forward with the plans because they were contingent on Clark County buying the city out of the Regional Justice Center where the city’s Municipal Court uses space. City and county officials couldn’t agree on a figure at that point.

A new courthouse is dependent on striking a deal with the county to buy the city out of its current space.

City officials are projecting a slight structural budget deficit starting in its fiscal year 2020, and City Manager Scott Adams has convened a team to brainstorm ways to craft a balanced budget a year in advance. Still, it’s about one-tenth of the deficit the city faced during the Great Recession, when officials were forced to make massive cuts.

“I don’t want to scare our employees, I don’t want anyone to think we’re back where we were,” Adams said. “This is very manageable.”

Jamie Munks at or. Follow on Twitter.

City of Las Vegas new and restored positions

• Two fire mobile integrated health care paramedics

• Seven for homeless programs

• One internal auditor

• Two administrative positions in the city attorney’s office

• 26 city marshals

• Four public works employees for traffic and other projects, three sanitation support employees

• Five City Council and neighborhood support employees

• Two building and safety inspectors

• Three parking positions

• Five operations and maintenance employees

• One information technology enterprise project manager

• Three positions for Strong Start Mobile Pre-kindergarten