Wednesday, November 10 2010 2:00 AM EST2010-11-10 07:00:26 GMT
First it was public salaries, and now the I-Team examines expense reports. Reporter Colleen McCarty is taking a look at how top level employees at the Clark County School District fly, stay and eat on your dime, despite unprecedented budget shortfalls.More>>
Wednesday, June 19 2013 9:30 AM EDT2013-06-19 13:30:29 GMT
LAS VEGAS - Be careful on the roads. Police across the valley are conducting a coordinated effort Wednesday to crack down on driving violations. Police will be looking for drivers who speed, run red lightsMore>>
Be careful on the roads. Police across the valley are conducting a coordinated effort Wednesday to crack down on driving violations.More>>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 8:13 PM EDT2013-06-19 00:13:36 GMT
PAHRUMP, Nev. -- A fight between senators in Washington, D.C., could resurrect the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear storage project in Nye County. Nye County leaders met Tuesday to support the openingMore>>
A fight between senators in Washington, D.C., could resurrect the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear storage project in Nye County.More>>
Wednesday, June 19 2013 9:30 AM EDT2013-06-19 13:30:09 GMT
HENDERSON, Nev. - A garden oasis has sprouted at John C. Vanderburg Elementary School. The garden features everything from arugula to tomatoes to radishes, which some students had never of until now. "It'sMore>>
A Henderson teacher is bringing the importance of healthy food choices into her students' lives with a unique garden club. 8 News NOW is rewarding her efforts in this week's Acts of Kindness.More>>
Wednesday, June 19 2013 1:22 AM EDT2013-06-19 05:22:23 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- US Thrill Rides LLC Incorporated has submitted plans to the FAA to create a 650-foot roller coaster near the Tropicana Hotel. The Florida based company is remaining tight lipped on any ofMore>>
US Thrill Rides LLC Incorporated has submitted plans to the FAA to create a 650-foot roller coaster near the Tropicana Hotel.More>>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 10:49 PM EDT2013-06-19 02:49:28 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Clark County Fire Department is battling a fire at a house near Russell Road and Spencer Street. According to the fire department's website, the fire started at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.More>>
A grass fire ignited a house in the 5400 block of Escondido Street, near Russell Road and Spencer Street, Tuesday afternoon.More>>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 9:50 PM EDT2013-06-19 01:50:28 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer has been relieved of duty after pleading guilty to charges of possession of a controlled substance. Officer Ramin Amely was charged with two felonyMore>>
A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer has been relieved of duty after pleading guilty to charges of possession of a controlled substance.More>>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:14 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:14:30 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Three major resort projects in Las Vegas could be the boost the local economy needs. The construction and hospitality industries have struggled since the recession, but signs of a reboundMore>>
Three major resort projects in Las Vegas could be the boost the local economy needs. The construction and hospitality industries have struggled since the recession, but signs of a rebound are emerging.More>>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:08 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:08:21 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Clark County residents could soon be paying nearly 3 cents more a gallon for fuel, depending on a decision by county commissioners. The Nevada Legislature recently approved a bill that allowsMore>>
Clark County residents could soon be paying nearly 3 cents more a gallon for fuel, depending on a decision by county commissioners.More>>
A North Las Vegas woman is the proud owner of a home thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity.More>>
LAS VEGAS -- For the past few years, water officials have scolded Las Vegas area residents to cut back on water consumption, remove their lawns, and stop washing cars. Even though the public has conserved water, the rates keep going up.
That's because the water agencies say they need to compensate for the drop in revenue. But as the public has made sacrifices, the agencies often have not. Case in point: their travel budgets.
We've reported in the past about spending by water agencies -- millions for P.R. campaigns, consultants, lobbyists, cattle ranches, even sheep. Now that the boom years have ended, the water authority has been forced to change its free spending ways, but only to an extent.
The I-Team filed a series of public records requests to see what water agency leaders have been spending and where they have been going.
County Commissioner Steve Sisolak had no idea just how many miles water officials have been racking up until we showed him the expense reports from the last three years.
Individual trips taken by Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager Pat Mulroy or her longtime deputy Kay Brothers don't require approval from the boards that oversees the water agencies. Sisolak was surprised not only by the dollar amounts but the exotic locales.
"They go to nice locations. They're not going to Des Moines or Chicago or Grand Rapids," he said.
The records show they have gone to Chicago, but its among their least expensive destinations.
Mulroy has become a water celebrity of sorts -- a much sought-after speaker at conferences both foreign and domestic -- and there's one being held somewhere pretty much every week.
During 2008, Mulroy took 21 out of town trips, including four out of the country. In one five month stretch, she visited Zurich, Switzerland, Singapore, Stockholm, Sweden and Vienna, Austria.
Some of the costs were covered by the event host, but the dollar amounts listed are those paid by the taxpayer. During the same year, Mulroy's deputy Kay Brothers took 18 domestic trips, including $1,400 for two days in San Francisco, $1,900 for five days in Washington, and $1,500 for six days in Santa Fe.
During that year, water rates in Las Vegas were increased twice and water customers were asked to cut back on their consumption.
"Where I've got a problem is when you are asking my rate-payers again to conserve water when we've raised the rates twice in 19 months and then spend the money on travel. It doesn't seem an adequate use of the resources," said Sisolak.
"Like every other business organization in the valley, we are in a different world now. Our travel costs over the last two to three years have dropped more than two thirds," said Scott Huntley with the SNWA.
Huntley says the water agencies simply can't afford to travel as they did in years past. Overall, travel expenses were cut in half from 2008 to 2009, and then were cut again.
Yet even in 2009, Mulroy and Brothers had 44 out of town trips and thru June of 2010, they took 19. Huntley defends the travel saying the world can learn plenty from how southern Nevada has coped with drought and climate change.
Mulroy's trip to Singapore, for instance, gave her a chance to learn as well.
"From going to a conference, we pick up information on what other countries are doing -- Australia with desalination, for instance," said Huntley.
Ironically, although Mulroy went to Singapore to learn about desalination, her agency paid for ads back home which disparaged its potential to help Nevada. During the Singapore outing, Mulroy paid more than $600 for dinner at Raffles, known for its 'timeless elegance," its $100 steaks, and $45 appetizers.
The trip to Sweden was taken, Huntley says, because SNWA was a finalist for a water award, which is why he says board member and North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck came along, in case they won. Buck's tab came to more than $7,500. She took two other water trips, too. The trip to Vienna was followed by a jaunt to Hollywood to debut a documentary financed by SNWA.
Even domestic trips can get expensive when one stays at the Ritz Carlton, which Mulroy does. Credit card records show Mulroy also pays for expensive meals without leaving town -- nearly $600 for dinner at a local steakhouse, more than $500 for chow at Bellagio, nearly $200 for a meal at Olive Garden.
Huntley says there is internal oversight of such expenses.
"Our policy is that any reimbursement must be appropriate and reasonable for the purpose," he said.
But who looks at the bills submitted by the boss?
"On her travel, a board member must sign off on travel arrangements in advance. Those are viewed by the finance department after they come back. It's what comes back to appropriate and reasonable," said Huntley.
Mulroy earns close to $300,000 a year and while it's great she can help the rest of the world learn about drought, it's not clear how that benefits the folks here who pay her salary.
SNWA says it agrees that in the age of teleconferencing and Skype, there isn't as much of a need for travel, which is one reason they have cut back. Commissioner Sisolak thinks there need to be clear rules for the water agencies about spending on travel and meals. He might propose some.