LAS VEGAS -- The I-Team has been looking into wasted taxpayer money and found just how much it is costing North Las Vegas residents to maintain their city parks.
North Las Vegas is nearly broke, its jail is closed, its police and firefighters are engaging in contract blood sport, but at least the city's parks give residents a sense of peace and calm. That may stop if taxpayers realized just how much it costs. It costs between $80 and $100 an hour to pay each city employee maintaining the parks. That's according to a North Las Vegas city auditor who added up salaries, benefits and administrative costs.
Nevada Policy Research Institute's Geoff Lawrence reviewed the same reports and points out another key fact about park maintenance.
"They spent an average of 2-and-a-half hours a day just driving around in their vehicles, going back and forth from the office to different parks and stuff, or taking too much time for lunch," Lawrence said.
The auditor's recommended hiring private companies to do the same job. Those companies charge as low as $25 an hour per employee. That move could save North Las Vegas taxpayers more than $1 million a year.
The city council did look at the report and took action -- the auditor was laid off. City of North Las Vegas officials declined to talk on camera about laying off the auditor. A letter was written to the I-Team stating the layoff was due to budget cuts.
City officials do admit there is no employee currently who has the ability to independently look at department budgets without management approval. With nobody independently auditing North Las Vegas, that leads even small government advocates pressing for a new government watchdog agency.
"One of the recommendations we've made is the state establish an independent auditor's office and give it the funding and the authority to do performance audits of any state or government agency," Lawrence said.
The City of North Las Vegas tells the I-Team they've cut down on overtime for parks and recreation employees. But the city has yet to answer just how much money they're saving this year.