The agenda was moderate Tuesday, as council reviewed and approved several resolutions including another extension for the Events Tent at the Casa Blanca Casino at 950 W Mesquite Boulevard. This time, Mesquite Gaming requested an extension of five years, instead of the standard 30 months, as in previous years.
The original approval for the tent was given in 2006, when the then Black Gaming had received approval for its plans to build a two-story convention center. Instead, they erected the current tent and the council approved it at that time with a 30 month allowance. Mesquite Gaming insists that they will build the convention center on the property if the economy allows it.
The council approved the extension 5-0, as they did with other resolutions regarding the Exit 118 interchange, which will have no impact on current work or completion timelines. An interlocal agreement with Clark County Government Elections Department was also approved.
The room quickly heated up with the final agenda item, which was to approve the agreement between the City and the Mesquite Police Officers Association (MPOA) and the consideration of approving a wage increase for those in management positions at the Mesquite Police Department.
Initially, Councilwoman Cindi Delaney had made a motion that the first half of the item, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City and the MPOE from 2014 – 2017 be approved, and that the second half of the item, the wage raise for management of the Mesquite Police Department, be tabled until further research and discussion about all management positions within the City. That motion quickly caused a firestorm of dialogue from Councilmen Kraig Hafen and George Rapson.
“For the record,” said Rapson, “these items are two separate agreements. They are not related to each other. In my view, we have three people in the management (of the MPD)… to manage 50+ employees… I am 100% for this (approval).”
Rapson said he agrees that all departments need to be evaluated and perhaps restructured to ensure that everything can run smoothly, but they don’t all need to be done at once.
Hafen then made his mark on the item, noting that “We have one of the best police departments in the state, with the best solve rates… it shouldn’t even be considered that we don’t approve this tonight.”
Councilmembers continued their strong statements for the next twenty minutes, and at one point it seemed that the agenda item would be shot down due to disagreement. Councilman Withelder expressed that he had “had some heartburn over this decision for some time now,” showing signs that he was against the aspect that there was no obvious reason for the raises. However, after Mayor Al Litman separated the items, as allowed by City Attorney Bob Sweetin, and further comments from other councilmembers, the first portion for the MPOA passed with a vote of 5 – 0 while the second barely passed with a vote of 3 – 2, Rapson, Hafen and Withelder voting for it, and Delaney and Rich Green opposing.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Delaney explained her decision as “I don’t have a problem with police management or any management getting raises, even considering our budget constraints. We do have to figure out how we are going to pay for these things. “My problem is with how this is being handled. Every department works hard and we need to look at all pay scales. We have moved people laterally, sideway, and up and down without any real logic. There may have been logic at the time, but we can’t see all of it now. Too many people wear multiple or ambiguous hats/titles.
“We truly need to clean up the organizational chart and the discrepancies in salaries. Management raises should be based on performance reviews, not steps. This should be addressed in the first quarter of 2015, starting immediately.”
Mayor Litman had even considered vetoing the motion at one point, but abstained from doing so. “I had seriously thought about using my right to veto, but I also very strongly feel that majority rules… I think at this time… I am going to encourage this council to consider keeping these agreements that come up in the near future.”
The meeting wrapped up with accolades on the council’s actions from several members of the community, as well as the MPOA President, Randall Southwick.
The ultimate affect that this approval will have on the City’s budget appears to be minimal, as Chief Troy Tanner will be opting to not fill a records clerk position or a new police officer position. With the savings of those two positions, the fiscal affect felt by the City’s budget will be about $66,815 over three years.
Before adjourning, Delaney asked City Attorney Bob Sweetin that the other staff reviews be scheduled for January.
Due to the holidays over the next two weeks, the next city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 10 E Mesquite Boulevard.