NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- With layoffs looming in the North Las Vegas Police Department, the battle over jobs and wages is reaching a fever pitch.
Late Wednesday, the union that represents police supervisors took the city to court. Now, an independent audit threatens to be the basis for yet another lawsuit.
In December of 2010, the North Las Vegas agreed to suspend police layoffs for 18 months unless the financial situation got so bad it couldn't balance the budget without them. Under that deal, an independent third party would make that call.
Faced with another round of reductions, the police and the city agreed to have accountant Mark Alden look at the books. His findings show that North Las Vegas can afford to pay the few police it has without further concessions from the union.
The report notes in recent years the city has cut spending on police services at an "alarming" rate. Additionally, Alden concludes the city is short 170 police officers based on the national average in 1996, and he recommends city leaders prioritize public safety.
In a written response, North Las Vegas disputes Alden's hiring standard as out-dated and unrelated to a city of its size. It also suggests Alden is biased in favor of the police, a claim he denies.
"I think the overall effect is you don't have enough police officers for 221,000 people. That's the bottom line. Their priorities are just wrong, so even if we except some of their findings, it does not change the tone of the report," he said.
The city's response challenges a number of Alden's findings as based on improper analysis and incorrect data. Alden says he got all his figures from the city.
Alden proposes funds designated as restricted by North Las Vegas could be used to pay police, including $36 million in a water utility fund. The city says applying that money to police services is against the law.
Despite the review, the city will issue pink slips as early as Monday for more than 40 law enforcement employees. If that happens, the union that represents says legal action will follow.