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North Las Vegas pushed to the wall

Back in 2006, when times were rosier and any inkling of a catastrophic economic downturn was just peeking through on the horizon, I did an article about the economic growth plans of the city of North Las Vegas. Then Mayor Michael Montandon and the city’s economic development team were championing the coming of economic growth for what was then the third fastest growing city in the nation.

The population had increased 53 percent in six years, the Silver Nugget had just been sold to a family with connections to big developers, Aliante Station was being built along the Interstate 215 Beltway, with land set aside for more casino development, and vacant land around the city was being marketed at historical highs.

North Las Vegas, on the surface at least, was on the move upward.

The article came about after comments of consolidation with the city of Las Vegas coming from then Mayor Oscar Goodman. But publicly, Montandon shrugged them off.

Two mayors later, North Las Vegas is turning to its neighbor in the hope it doesn’t become the Silver State’s version of Detroit, which would have negative effects on Las Vegas, and Southern Nevada too. North Las Vegas’ borders are so intertwined with Las Vegas and Clark County, it behooves all parties to work out agreements before the state steps in like a parent and mandates consolidation.

The announcement last week that the neighboring cities were looking into consolidating services in some of its municipal agencies did not come as a surprise. Various departments within both cities, but more-so Las Vegas, have been doing consolidation studies since the mid-2000’s.

First, jobs will be lost or left vacant. If you’re sharing various services, most of those cost savings to taxpayers will be reached by the reduction of staff. Ten cut city employees equals nearly $1 million in savings, when including benefits.

While on the surface, this sounds like a good plan, how do the citizens of North Las Vegas get protected from getting stuck in the middle of political back-and-forth, which surely follows these types of steps?

The cities have shared jail services since 2011 with North Las Vegas paying Las Vegas to house its prisoners on Stewart Avenue. Soon after the agreement was reached, municipal judges in North Las Vegas stopped releasing people on their own recognizance for alleged minor infractions last year. That meant defendants who were picked up on something as minor as traffic warrants would have sat in jail until families could secure bail, or sit in jail for weeks until their case was resolved in court.

I’m not sure this is still going on, but it was last year.

Former Clark County Manager Thom Reilly has been hired to make sure Las Vegas doesn’t impose its will on its hapless neighbor and “the work maintains the best interest of North Las Vegas.”

I’m not really sure how much negotiating power officials in North Las Vegas have at this point. However, these steps are important to pull that city out of its quagmire, which included flirting with bankruptcy this summer.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of CityLife. Follow him @KnightlyGrind on Twitter.