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Policy group, unions at odds over Las Vegas police salaries

Policy group, unions at odds over Las Vegas police salaries

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Mar 12, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A state think tank and police unions are at odds over the salaries of local officers.
The Nevada Policy Research Institute, which describes itself as "fiscally conservative," compiled and posted online the salaries of hundreds of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department employees from 2012.
The report said one of the top earners was a captain who took home more than $585,000 in pay and benefits last year. Another 149 LVMPD employees earned more than $200,000 in total compensation during that period, the report said.
"It's the taxpayers' money and they have the right to know how and where it's being spent," said president Andy Matthews, who called some of the salaries "bloated" and "inflated."
The group received the information from LVMPD through public records requests and posts the information each year, Matthews said. But the president said this year is different.
"This at a time when the department is asking for additional tax revenue and an increase in the sales tax because it says it simply does not have enough revenue. Well, these numbers tell a different story," Matthews said.
The numbers come out as Sheriff Doug Gillespie is asking for a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax to fund extra officers.
Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak said the sheriff also told the county and city, who jointly fund police, that LVMPD is facing a roughly $48 million gap for the upcoming budget. Sisolak noted that most of the top earners in the report were managers in administrative posts, not patrol officers, but said overall salaries are a concern during the budget writing process.
"At a time when the general population is still taking pay cuts and our unemployment rate is still extremely high, you know we've got salaries that are continuing to escalate and that's something we need to keep an eye on and look at," Sisolak said.
But the Las Vegas Police Managers and Supervisors Association, which represents positions like captains, lieutenants and sergeants, said the numbers are misleading.
Lt. John Faulis, union chairman, said the column in the report listing "other pay" includes unused vacation time that was cashed out over a period of years, if not decades. In some cases, the report shows the "other pay" column is larger than an employee's base salary. Faulis, who declined an on-camera interview but spoke with Action News over the phone, said the column makes the officers' salary seem high as a way to "shock" readers.
NPRI said Nevada's collective bargaining law needs reform. Faulis said the management union has made concessions over the last few years to save money and created caps on cashing in unused vacation time.
The Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which represents regular officers who patrol the streets, said its officers have not had a pay increase in the last five years.
"I don't know how you can say they're inflated over the past years. They were not. And do I believe they were ever inflated? No. I do not," said Chris Collins, executive director of the PPA, in a telephone interview.
The PPA's contract is set to expire at the end of June and negotiations for a new deal are already under way, said Collins.
Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

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Michael Lopardi is the featured reporter of the You Ask. We Investigate. franchise at Action News.