Following fiscal belt-tightening during the recent economic downturn, the city of Las Vegas is starting to see the results from the restored and expanded services it has made in several key areas: animal control, park maintenance and inspections.
In July of last year, the city restored the work hours of the Animal Control Unit from 32 hours to a 40-hour work week. Officers’ hours were previously reduced in January 2011 as a cost-saving measure, and the impacts to the community were felt, resulting in increased response times and some calls not being answered.
Since the work hours were restored, hundreds more calls have been answered in the last year, and quicker; calls for lost animals, barking dogs, animals on the loose and more. Response times have improved by 12.72 minutes for all calls for service. The number of “priority calls” -- such as aggressive animals running loose, cruelty to animals and animals in distress -- also increased over the last year, but at the same time response times improved by 7.35 minutes.
Also last year, the city added four part-time parks maintenance employees on weekends, dedicated to keeping reservable picnic areas clean. There had not been weekend cleanups since 2010, which impacted citizens who use those areas for family gatherings, birthday parties and other celebrations. These part-time employees are now keeping 69 reservable picnic areas clean every weekend so residents’ special events are memorable.
In addition, in July 2012, the city’s inspection services for homeowners and the construction industry expanded to a seven-day-a-week schedule. Previously, this service was only available Monday through Thursday. Since the weekend coverage was added, building inspectors have responded to more than 1,200 weekend inspections. The expansion of inspection services means residents don’t need to wait until Monday to pull permits for weekend home improvement projects, including water heater installations.
While the city is expanding programs, it also continues to see savings. The city has saved more than $1.4 million in utility bills over the past year via an aggressive energy and water conservation program at all city facilities in addition to doubling its recycling rates.
To ensure residents are aware of the increase in services as well as the significant progress the city is making overall, the city is launching a public service campaign on Feb. 25– Your City Works for You (www.lasvegasnevada.gov/yourcityworks).
When the economy faltered a few years ago, city leaders committed to keeping residents updated each year on the budget progress and situation. The public service effort helps the city keep that commitment.