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Group: City parks understaffed

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By David Giuliani

Las Vegas’ parks department is understaffed compared with other towns, which is unfair to city employees, the chairman of a local group said last week.

“Las Vegas asks its parks people to do about 20 times the work that other cities ask,” John Spencer, the chairman of the Las Vegas Tree Board, told the City Council at its regular meeting. “These guys are great, but they aren’t superheroes.”

Spencer said Las Vegas has only two full-time parks employees — Jeff Rudolph and Alan Roybal — who take care of 38 sites. In Alamogordo, there are 17 full-time and six seasonal workers who maintain 26 locations, while in Taos, six full-time employees are in charge of eight parks.

Since 2005, the city has cut its parks budget by half, Spencer said. In 2009 alone, the budget was slashed from $123,000 to $66,000.

“Continuation of the policy will mean disaster for our parks,” Spencer said. “These policies have inevitably led to the accumulation of trash in our parks, vandalism, stolen trash containers, needles, human and animal excrement that must be picked up.”

That leaves the employees little time for pruning, removal of hazardous limbs and trees, maintenance and mulching, Spencer said.

“We talk about making Las Vegas a clean and green city. It’s time to make our actions match our rhetoric,” he said.

After Spencer’s comments to the council, City Manager Timothy Dodge said the city was planning to give the parks department a big increase. Last year, because of orders from the state, the city had to slash $1 million from its budget, which had a big impact on parks.