The City Council meeting on December 9 left some to wonder what was going through the minds of the council as Councilmen George Rapson and Kraig Hafen sent the motion forward to approve the pay raises for Police Management. It was ultimately passed 3-2, with Councilman Geno Withelder for the motion and Councilmembers Cindi Delaney and Rich Green against. Mayor Al Litman chose not to veto the resolution, stating that the ‘majority rules’ in this case.
It wasn’t until the morning after that some realized just what had happened. The initial motion that Rapson proposed and was ultimately passed was for the approval of the original agreement set forth to the council, not the amended version that was in the agenda packet and would have saved the City money in the long run. With all of the talk of budgetary issues and reduced revenues throughout the area, one would think that a red flag would, or should have, been raised.
Rapson spoke with the MLN on Thursday, December 11 and stated that he was, in fact, aware of the fact that he had motioned for the more expensive agreement. He reiterated his beliefs that he had stated at the meeting two days before, that the raise was justified.
But there’s just a little more to the story than it may seem. Through research, it just so happens that Rapson is also the Realtor of record on Chief Troy Tanner’s home that is on the housing market, which also means that Withelder in involved, as he is a Managing Broker for Premier Properties, the company Rapson is working under. Conspiracy theorists would jump all over that, especially in Mesquite. Some, who talked off the record with the MLN, believe that Rapson and Withelder should have recused themselves from the entire agenda item, as it appears to be a potential conflict of interest.
When approached with this during his conversation with the MLN, Rapson claimed that it had “never even occurred to me that it would be an issue. Up until now, I honestly hadn’t even thought about it being an issue with it [the agenda item].” Withelder also chimed the same, saying that it had no bearing on his decision to vote in favor of the agenda item.
With all of that being said, it is clear in the ‘numbers picture’ that the four remaining positions, Police Chief, Deputy Chief, Captain and Lieutenant, with the raises, could cost the city a good handful of money. Even with the concessions that the union agreed to, there won’t be a lot of savings to be noted.
In an email from City Finance Director David Empey, he states that “Chief Tanner has achieved budgetary savings of over $400,000 with respect to Police, Corrections, Dispatch and Animal Control Departments. For this fiscal year, the Chief eliminated and de-funded two staff positions, salary and benefits valued annually at $233,000. Additionally, first-ever inmate housing agreements have been initiated with Boulder City, Moapa Tribe and Mohave County, Arizona which adds new city revenues….a little over $26,000 has been received through November 2014.”
So it appears the whole situation may wash itself out, or come out even, depending on the interpretation of the numbers. According to Empey, with the City’s fiscal year being 34% complete, the current budget stands at Year to Date (YTD) Expenditures at $2,208,893 while the Budget for the year is $5,677,472. It will take some time to fully realize the effects of the increase in pay for the Police Department.
The full City Budget can be reviewed on the City’s website, www.mesquitenv.gov, along with the monthly statements that are posted.