Metro seeking 10% higher budget for 2023

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo speaks during an interview with the Review-Journal at the Las ...

Las Vegas police are asking for nearly a 10 percent increase in their annual budget for the next fiscal year, with no new positions needed for officers.

A tentative budget posted by the Metropolitan Police Department showed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is asking to bring the agency’s budget to more than $726 million.

“We’re experiencing around a 12 percent decrease in the number of officers applying on an annual basis,” Lombardo said Tuesday. “We have some of those existing vacancies, so with our recruiting numbers being down 12 percent, we’re just trying to catch up with this budget.”

The tentative budget adds 58 civilian positions to bring back pre-pandemic staffing levels of civilian employees. Lombardo cited two years of collective bargaining agreement wage increases in his letter to Metro’s fiscal affairs committee seeking the increase.

The sheriff is asking for $306.9 million from Clark County and $157.9 million from the city of Las Vegas. The rest will come from contributions and contracts with other departments that pay Metro.

About two-thirds of Metro calls are responses in unincorporated Clark County, according to department data.

Tentative budgets posted by both the county and the city more than cover Metro’s request.

In a tentative budget posted by the county last month, officials anticipated about one-third of the $1.7 billion budget to be spent on Metro and the Clark County Detention Center.

Lombardo last year asked for a budget increase of 0.72 percent, citing Metro’s frugality during the pandemic and vacancies that were intentionally unfilled to save the department money. Metro’s fiscal year matches the calendar year.

Budget details from the 2023 plan showed a projected $28 million would be spent on traffic enforcement, the highest amount for any patrol section, and $34 million on homicide and sex crimes investigations.

Homicide and sex crimes was the most expensive investigative section, double that of narcotics and major violators, which was the second most expensive.

Las Vegas Review-Journal records show in 2021, Clark County had the highest numbers of homicides since 2017, when a mass shooting left 60 dead.

In an interview at the end of the year, homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said his team was so busy that they were hiring on four more officers and another sergeant. It was unclear when the team would start.

Lombardo said Tuesday that the fiscal budget was still in negotiations.

“The fiscal affairs committee has not ratified it yet,” Lombardo said. “We’re going back and forth as a result of that. Today we’re probably down to about 7 percent … There’s some cuts that have been made, there’s some payments that will have to be deferred.”

The final budget is usually approved by Metro’s fiscal affairs committee at the end of April and submitted to the city and county, who ratify their budgets in May.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.