Friday, May 11, 2012

Poor North Las Vegas

So state officials are again chiding North Las Vegas for their clusterf*ck of a city budget. And even worse, they're basically putting the city on probation.

North Las Vegas Finance Director Al Zochowski told the Nevada Tax Commission this morning that the financially strapped city will experience a small cash flow deficit in June but should end the month with slightly more than $2 million in positive cash flow.

Hacker also told the commission that the city has been meeting all of its debt obligations.

The cash flow status prompted the commission to request that North Las Vegas begin furnishing the state with regular cash flow reports as the state Department of Taxation continues to assist the city with its finances.

Zochowski and City Manager Timothy Hacker also were directed to submit a letter to the taxation department that lays out all the actions the city took to back up its proposed fiscal 2013 budget. The City Council is expected to vote on the budget Tuesday for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Yep. It's really that bad now. But really, how did "Nor'town" get here? Well, it's complicated.

Certainly, there's a reason why it's been named one of "The 10 Worst Run Cities in America". Priorities do seem awfully out of whack at times. While a shiny new City Hall opens, direly needed parks and community centers close. And while the city continues to chase development that still doesn't make sense, more layoffs seem destined to happen.

However, there's another reason why Nor'town is destitute, a reason we certainly can't ignore. The state has also had a major role in putting North Las Vegas in this place. Remember that North Las Vegas gets far less C-Tax funding per capita than Las Vegas and Henderson. And remember that Nor'town has to pay out of its own pocket for services (like public libraries) that Las Vegas and Henderson don't.

Again, there's a glaring inequity in Nevada's tax structure, one that even affects our local governments and their finances. And it seems especially cruel that it's hitting many of Southern Nevada's poorest communities the hardest. After all, these are the communities that need things like libraries, after school programs, and crime prevention the most. And now, Nor'town is being asked to cut more.

While the City of North Las Vegas has made many poor decisions in the past on budgeting and setting proper priorities, the people of this city should not be punished simply because of their zip code... And because other municipalities were savvier in snatching away state funds. North Las Vegas, we really have a problem. And it's far deeper than you think.

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