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Council keeps workers' perk

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By David Giuliani

The City Council last week rejected a proposal that would have ended the benefit in which employees can use the recreation center for free.

Sixty to 80 employees use the rec center each month — a free benefit for both workers and city retirees. But officials proposed that employees and retirees pay a discounted price for the services.

Under the officials’ proposal, city employees would pay $15 a month to use the rec center, instead of the $30 rate for other customers. Additional family members would get in for $10 a month.

The city is supplementing the recreation center’s budget by $500,000 a year — and costs continue to rise. It’s not unusual for municipalities to subsidize their centers. But Las Vegas, like cities everywhere, is suffering declining tax revenue because of the bad economy.

On top of that, the state is no longer appropriating cigarette tax revenue to cities. That money had been designated for the rec center.

City Manager Timothy Dodge said the city’s directors recommended that employees pay for the rec center.

“We know we’re using the rec center, and we understand the difficulties the center is going through,” Dodge told the council at a meeting last week. “I think all of the directors feel we need to support the rec center.”

He said the city has other means to encourage employee wellness. He is proposing that the city allow workers to add their morning and afternoon 15-minute breaks to their lunch hour, so they can have enough time to work out.

City Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron said she didn’t like the idea of charging employees for the rec center. She noted that both Highlands University and Luna Community College don’t charge their employees for such services.

“It’s important to keep our employees healthy and happy,” she said.

Gurule-Giron and Councilman David Romero voted against charging employees. Feldman supported the proposal. Councilwoman Diane Moore didn’t attend the meeting because of work obligations.

Mayor Alfonso Ortiz told the council that he didn’t believe the proposal was meant to penalize employees.

“It’s really a suggestion on their (directors’) part that they know what the economic situation is,” the mayor said. “By no means do we want to hurt other people.”