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Unlike Detroit, North Las Vegas dodged bankruptcy

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Updated: 7/19/2013 10:40 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & -- It's a cautionary tale for cities here in southern Nevada that have been hit with major budget crunches the past five years.

Detroit has hit rock bottom and it's been a long time coming. A dwindling population, the decline of the automakers and political corruption are just some of Detroit’s woes.

Detroit's emergency manager-- who took control of the city in March -- insists bankruptcy will not change the day-to-day services.

The largest union in Detroit says officials pulled the trigger too fast and bankruptcy was not the way to go.

North Las Vegas knows all too well what Detroit is going through.

NLV dodged bankruptcy but the similarities are striking.

It almost did and though North Las Vegas is no longer teetering on the brink of a state-takeover. The city is still on the edge and it’s in the middle of collective bargaining talks with labor groups now and the motor city is the poster child of what not to do.

Detroit is broke and is now the biggest city in U.S. history to ever file for bankruptcy.

Long before the motor city filed for bankruptcy so many Detroit neighborhoods have looked run down.

It's a far cry from the typical North Las Vegas street but the fact is: North Las Vegas could have been Detroit.

“For a while we didn't know what was going to happen --pretty close and didn't know if they would make it through it,” said business owner Tracy Ellison.

Ellison opened his Flip-n-Out gym in the middle of North Las Vegas' own financial meltdown. Ellison didn't know if his city would ever bounce back.

“It could have definitely put a damper on what we were doing and we were seeing an increase every month,” Ellison said.

The state department of taxation never did take-over North Las Vegas.

But like Detroit: North Las Vegas pensions and personnel nearly sucked them dry and 80 percent of North Las Vegas' entire budget goes to paying its employees.

And just like Detroit home values plunged in North Las Vegas. The difference is that North Las Vegas held its population and didn't see that mass exodus like Detroit did when the auto industry went bust.

"How long has this gone on and people had not stopped to say stop kicking the can down the road and do something? we are doing something," said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

North Las Vegas did something too when last June it declared a fiscal emergency to blow up union contracts.


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