|Mayor Lee, North Las Vegas|
Merging best business, government practices
Considered to be 1 key to saving large cityMayor Lee of North Las Vegas addresses Laughlin Leadership Forum
LAUGHLIN, Nev. – Selecting the best business practices and joining them with the best practices for effective local government is one of the keys to keeping a metropolitan government clear of bankruptcy.
This was one of a multi-part effort cited by John Lee, now in his second term as Mayor of the City of North Las Vegas, when he spoke to about 30 persons on May 18 in a Laughlin Economic Development Corporation Leadership Forum speech at the Richard Springston American Legion Post 60 in Laughlin.
And it started when he said he could not bear the thought of his hometown being dissolved because of bankruptcy. To do something about it, he ran for the mayorship, won, and recently was re-elected by an overwhelming.
Lee described the lawsuit-infested atmosphere when he began cleaning house of excessive staffing that had grown to the point where 3 employees were on the payroll to do the work of 1 staff member.
Another key was recruiting highly-talented managers, one of whom began telling the public about the new administration’s side of the story to counteract all the negative publicity as the city fought to prevent going into bankruptcy with a debt of some $156 million. Lee told the audience that all has been repaid, in just 4 years.
The Mayor also pointed out that as he contacted local governments which had been or were in the same situation as North Las Vegas, it was emphasized that a large city such as Detroit, San Bernardino, or North Las Vegas, has an expensive regional, state, and/or international negative impact on the bonding capacity of all entities. Bond underwriters would refuse or be extremely restricting in the conditions and charge higher interests to the survivors.
Another factor Lee cited was getting the public employee unions to agree to changes.
It got so bad that he called Gov. Brian Sandoval into a meeting with the union negotiators. Lee said the discussions were not advancing towards a goal of saving the city. So he threatened to leave, meaning he would have to close down the police department – and thus the Governor would have to call in the Nevada National Guard – and would do the same with the fire department. This is a point Laughlinites related to as about 95% of the dedicated Laughlin Township budget goes to the Clark County Fire Department and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for a local staff of about 75 firefighters and police officers.
The Mayor also pointed to the streamlining of the development code process and the building permit system in which applicants could get building permits within a few days by using a system in which private sector principals were trained and certified in the city’s greatly reduced bureaucratic steps. He indicated it was the fastest timeline among the Vegas Valley governments.
Lee was on the Nevada Senate Government Affairs Committee and joined Dr. Joe Hardy, whose 12th District includes Laughlin Township, in championing the right to vote for the first time on the question of local cityhood was approved. Citizens declined to take the step to independence, leaving local government in the hands of more than a dozen Las Vegas-based districts.
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