Ex-official followed mayor’s order

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By Lee Einer

Las Vegas Mayor Tony Marquez has stated previously that a gas rate hike that had been delayed for nearly three months “should have been done automatically by the utilities department.”

But an executive order signed by the mayor himself imposed a freeze on all such actions.

A couple of months ago, the Optic reported that a gas rate increase submitted to City Hall by then-Utilities Director George DuFour in October was not put into effect until January. The delay resulted in a loss of revenue to the gas utility. DuFour at that time said that he had made multiple requests to City Hall to speed up the rate increase, to no avail.

“This thing was languishing in the dark hole of the city manager’s office for two months,” DuFour said. “We sent it over in October, and I don’t know where it went. I kept asking and kept asking, and that was part of the frustration where my blood pressure went off the frigging wall.”

Marquez said in January that the rate increase should have been done automatically by the utilities department without the involvement of the City Council or others. Marquez said he could not say why the utilities department did not take action and that he would take action so that the problem does not recur.

“There seems to be a breakdown in communication,” Marquez said in the January interview.

But the Optic has obtained an executive order signed by Marquez on Dec. 11 which states in part, “Whereas, this Mayor expects a ‘full review’ of any and all city ordinances and administrative regulations that relate to any adjustments or changes to any utility rates, fees, charges, delinquent accounts, waivers, and hereby directs an immediate ‘hold/freeze’ on such actions until this review has been completed by the Office of the Mayor or by governing body action.”

The order required all staff members to carry out and follow the rule.

Marquez was asked for an explanation for the apparent discrepancy, but he had not responded as of press time.

In late January, Marquez put DuFour on paid administrative leave, then convinced the council to fire the director in early February.