Five years ago, North Las Vegas was the fastest-growing large city in the United States. Its new $130 million City Hall building boasts an outdoor corridor lined with marble columns, but the city has officially been declared a disaster.
It hasn't been hit by a natural disaster, and there is no rioting in the street. North Las Vegas has a more than $30 million budget gap, and as a result its elected leaders recently declared a state of emergency. With this, the city manager has been given the powers to suspend union contracts.
City Council member Wade Wagner told the Associated Press that the move will save North Las Vegas $9 million.
But what drove the blue-collar city to declare a state of emergency and was it really necessary?
According to the AP, there has been five years of declining property taxes, huge layoffs and some dubious spending choices. North Las Vegas' expenses are also growing.
Bloomberg also reported that last year, property values are half of what they were in 2007. Additionally, one in every 216 homes was in foreclosure in April. RealtyTrac Inc. in Irvine, Calif., told the news agency that that figure is three times the national rate.
Further reports are that the city lost more than 3,000 businesses in just three years after the 2007 recession. Total revenue declined from $817 million in 2009 to $298 million this year, the AP reported, adding that hundreds of municipal workers got pink slips.
North Las Vegas isn't the only American city that's struggling with declining property values and rising expenses. It's just one in a few, if any at all, to declare its fiscal woes an emergency.
When Stockton, Calif., and Los Angeles sought emergency declarations, they were legally challenged.
We are in a fiscal emergency, Wagner said. North Las Vegas is ground zero basically for foreclosures in the nation. There are only a handful of places that have been hit as hard as North Las Vegas. So, because our property taxes have declined so much, we really had to invoke this.
Do you think North Las Vegas really needed to declare a state of emergency because of its financial problems? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below, and in the meantime, learn more about the disaster declaration from the AP and Bloomberg.