Why Is This City Declared A Disaster Area?
Why Is This City Declared A Disaster Area?, North Las Vegas is in a state of emergency, but not because of flooding or twisters. There are no signs of rioters, wind-damaged homes or flooding. The brand new City Hall features gleaming marble floors and the public recreation centers offer Zumba, karate and Pilates classes.Despite all of its suburban trimmings, North Las Vegas is officially a disaster area.
After five years of declining property taxes, massive layoffs and questionable spending, leaders of the blue-collar, family-oriented city outside Las Vegas declared a state of emergency, invoking a rarely used state law crafted for unforeseen disasters.
No matter that the statute, which allows municipalities to suspend union contracts and avoid paying scheduled salary increases, doesn’t actually include fiscal emergencies among the list of potential disasters.
“It says, in case of ‘emergency such as.’ You can’t list how many different types of emergencies there are in the world,” City Council member Wade Wagner said of the move, which will save the city $9 million.
There are many cities across the nation grappling with declining property values and growing expenses like North Las Vegas, but few, if any, have declared financial emergency.
Stockton, Calif., and Los Angeles explored similar emergency declarations and were met with legal challenges. In Buffalo, N.Y., court officials upheld a wage freeze in 2006 that allowed the city to address its four-year $127 million deficit and avoid financial disaster.
North Las Vegas is among Nevada’s hardest-hit cities, at a time when the state is dealing with the nation’s highest unemployment rate and an unrelenting tide of foreclosures and bankruptcies. Every few months, the state threatens to take over the city.
Even so, the financial disaster declaration is unprecedented in Nevada, raising questions about whether North Las Vegas is overreaching at the expense of its employees and reputation.
“It makes it sound like our buildings are all on fire and they don’t have water to put it out or something,” said Jennifer Meyers, who moved to the city before the housing collapse so her kids could play in the street without worrying about crime. (AP)