Salary Tracker: Separation Pay Costs North Las Vegas Millions

LAS VEGAS -- Millions of public dollars are paid out when cities pay employees who leave their job. It's called separation pay.

The higher earners on the 8NewsNOW.com Salary Tracker are often the public employees who cashed out hundreds of thousands of dollars when calling it quits. One city in particular, North Las Vegas, has seen so many people leave, the bill to cash them out is skyrocketing.

Salary Tracker Data

North Las Vegas fire stations remain dark and empty since budget cuts crippled the city. Some some firefighters decided to take jobs elsewhere, instead of waiting to be cut.

"We've had a mass exodus," said North Las Vegas firefighter union president Jeff Hurley. "They've already left, they're already trained. Other municipalities are picking them up. They stayed in southern Nevada and went to Clark County, Las Vegas, Henderson fire departments. We've lost over 35 percent of our emergency staff because of this uncertainty."

Shrinking Workforce in North Las Vegas

When those firefighters left, there was separation pay. Looking at how much separation pay cost North Las Vegas tells a story of a city in financial trouble. In 2010 and 2011, North Las Vegas paid about what most other cities were paying which was around $5 million each year. In 2012, that dollar figure skyrocketed to $15 million.

The impact of the separation pay impacts North Las Vegas twice as much when compared to the other city entities because North Las Vegas has fewer employees.

Separation pay can also create political liability. When North Las Vegas assistant fire chief and Democratic congressional candidate John Oceguera cashed out his retirement pay, it shot him towards the top of salary numbers in 2011, it also created the basis for a Republican congressional television ad which called Oceguera corrupt because his retirement pay was around $250,000 when he cashed out of the city.

There's a new mayor and city manager in North Las Vegas. They're trying new ways to get the budget in order. But the large up front checks the city has to write departing employees takes away money when the city needs it most.

"When you look at that lump sum money total for all the employees who have left the city, which has been an astronomical amount, it is alarming, but there is the cost savings on the backbend from the benefits and the salaries," Hurley said.

 


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