Luxurious automobiles purchased with taxpayer cash in Southern Nevada

Taxpayers are footing the invoice for Cadillacs, Audis, Teslas and different luxurious autos for a few of Southern Nevada’s highest-compensated authorities staff — autos the employees maintain after they depart public jobs, data present.

The employees, lots of whom obtain salaries of greater than $200,000 a 12 months, are receiving as much as $700 a month in automobile allowances — a profit that may cowl a considerable portion of month-to-month lease or mortgage funds for the dear autos, a Las Vegas Overview-Journal investigation discovered.

Many officers purchase prime luxurious or sports activities automobiles, Nevada Division of Motor Automobiles registration data present. And one of many county staff receiving the profit had no autos registered in her title, data present.

In 2021, Clark County and the Clark County College District every had greater than 40 staff with car allowances, costing taxpayers about $400,000 mixed, data present. UNLV and the College of Nevada, Reno spent greater than $100,000 on allowances — UNR spent probably the most with $319,000 in 2021 — however these numbers additionally embody housing allowances for some prime officers.

The newest knowledge accessible from the businesses was from 2021.

In contrast, the state doesn’t present automobile allowances to any staff. As a substitute, it pays mileage or supplies fleet autos to employees who drive as a part of their jobs. The town of Las Vegas limits the perk to the mayor underneath a 2007 ordinance handed by her predecessor, who can also be her husband.

Robert Fellner, a vp at Nevada Coverage Analysis Institute, stated the typical Clark County worker’s wage was larger than the typical in 99 % of counties in the USA. He stated dear advantages have been phased out by many non-public firms, however governments exhibit a failure of management by persevering with the perks.

“You want a accountable authorities, and also you want somebody who takes significantly taxpayers’ cash and says we’re not going to purchase individuals a automobile,” he stated.

Clark County doesn’t have a proper coverage about who will obtain an allowance. The county supervisor awards the profit, in keeping with spokesman Erik Pappa, who himself receives a $6,000 annual automobile allowance as a part of an almost $190,000 pay and advantages package deal.

The automobile allowances are on prime of a bevy of advantages that some prime officers obtain — like reimbursements for digital units, four-day work weeks and promoting again trip whereas nonetheless employed — knowledge from the businesses reveals.

Expensive autos for prime officers

Kevin Schiller, who was promoted from deputy Clark County supervisor to the highest job in November, obtained $6,000 in 2021 for a automobile allowance on prime of greater than $300,000 in pay and advantages. He has 5 autos, together with a basic 1980 Porsche 911 and a 2019 Audi RS5 that has a base value of almost $75,000, DMV data present.

Drew Christensen, director of Clark County’s workplace of appointed counsel, has two Cadillacs — a 2015 ATS Luxurious and a 2022 CT5 Sport, data present. Christensen receives a $500 month-to-month automobile allowance on prime of his $250,000 pay and advantages package deal.

Deputy County Supervisor Jeff Wells, who has been the main focus of Overview-Journal investigations that appeared into his effectiveness in operating county departments, drives a 2022 Audi A4. The funds for that car may virtually be coated by his $6,000 annual automobile allowance. In all, he made $314,000 in wage and advantages in 2021.

Caroline Santoro, who’s the county’s supervisor of a division that offers with accounting, threat administration and procurement, and audit director Angela Darragh additionally obtained $500 a month in automobile allowances.

Santoro, who makes $204,000 in pay and advantages, has a 2018 Lexus GX 460 that, absolutely loaded, prices as a lot as $70,000 new. Darragh, who makes $216,000 a 12 months, has a 2020 Jaguar F-PACE that tops out at $89,000, relying on the mannequin and choices.

County CFO Jessica Colvin obtained $6,000 in automobile allowances in 2021, however DMV officers may discover no autos registered in her title since 2015.

Darragh declined to remark. Schiller, Christensen, Wells, Colvin and Santoro didn’t reply to calls, emails and requests for an interview made via Pappa.

Pappa emailed an announcement that stated the county supervisor supplies the profit to staff who’re “anticipated to be accessible when wanted and to journey for the enterprise they conduct on behalf of the county.”

“An worker’s resolution on how they select to spend their very own wage is theirs alone,” the assertion stated. “The automobile allowance is a fringe advantage of their employment.”

The county additionally has greater than 2,500 fleet autos — starting from specialised work autos like tractors and ambulances to a half dozen Tesla Mannequin 3s — for its varied departments. Taxpayers paid $147 million for these autos. And the county pays out about $100,000 a 12 months in mileage reimbursements break up amongst almost 500 staff, data present.

Native authorities insurance policies

Stephanie Klapstein, spokeswoman for the Nevada Division of Administration, stated the state’s advantages differ from native authorities perks.

The “state doesn’t present car allowances, wellness/fitness center allowances, or machine allowances,” she wrote in an e-mail response to Overview-Journal questions. “Workers could also be granted entry to state-owned autos and units.”

That would change as a result of in 2019 the Legislature handed a regulation permitting state staff to unionize for the primary time.

Some native governments considerably restrict the profit.

A 2007 Las Vegas metropolis ordinance sponsored by then-Mayor Oscar Goodman elevated mayoral pay and offered a automobile allowance — $7,200 a 12 months — which his spouse, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, now receives. No different metropolis worker receives a automobile allowance.

The Goodmans haven’t had a car registered of their names since 2018, DMV data present. Carolyn Goodman didn’t reply to a request for remark left with the town’s spokesman.

Henderson and North Las Vegas present the allowances to the mayor, council members, metropolis supervisor and metropolis legal professional, data present. The profit prices North Las Vegas taxpayers about $43,000 and Henderson taxpayers $56,000 a 12 months.

Former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee defended the apply, saying it will increase effectivity and prevents abuses like individuals padding mileage reimbursements.

“The system takes out all mendacity, mischief and threat,” he stated. “I see it as a profit to residents.”

However Lee couldn’t clarify why many of the businesses present the allowance solely to prime officers as an alternative of rank-and-file staff who’re on name or use their autos often for work.

“I’m undecided I do know the main points of what the town and state provide,” he stated.

Automotive allowances in training

The Clark County College District, UNLV and College Medical Middle additionally pay car allowances to prime officers. The hospital is run by the Clark County Fee.

College district Superintendent Jesus Jara and two assistant superintendents obtained allowances of between $6,240 and $8,400 in 2021, district knowledge reveals. DMV data present that Jara has a 2018 Cadillac XTS.

District communications workers didn’t reply to requests for an interview with Jara, however spokesman Mauricio Marin stated the allowance was not included in Jara’s new contract extension final 12 months. He didn’t know why.

UNLV president Keith Whitfield obtained a automobile allowance of $8,000 in 2021 and a housing allowance of $18,000, and Vice President of Philanthropy and Alumni Outreach Rickey McCurry was paid $18,200 in car and residential allowances that 12 months.

“It’s paid in lieu of reimbursement for eligible transportation bills, as permitted by relevant state and federal guidelines,” UNLV spokesman Francis McCabe wrote in an e-mail trade.

In 2021, Whitfield made $564,766 in pay and advantages and McCurry made $369,025, college knowledge reveals.

Whitfield owns 5 autos — three basic automobiles, a 2006 Jeep Wrangler and a 2017 Tesla Mannequin X, DMV data present. McCurry owns three Cadillacs and a Toyota.

Neither Whitfield nor McCurry responded to interview requests made via McCabe.

College Medical Middle CEO Mason Van Houweling receives $6,000 yearly for his car allowance. The profit is a part of a compensation package deal that tops $1 million a 12 months, data present. Data additionally present that he has 5 autos, together with a 2021 Mercedes A220 and a 1966 Corvette, registered in his title.

Van Houweling stated two of the automobiles — together with the Mercedes — are his daughters’ they usually pay for them. He stated he has had the Corvette for a very long time.

The hospital CEO stated the allowance pays for a 2006 Honda Pilot with 235,000 miles that he makes use of to go to staff and communities from Laughlin to Mesquite. The profit permits him to keep away from time-consuming mileage studies, he stated.

“I’m not behind a desk fairly often,” he added.

Contact Arthur Kane at [email protected] and comply with @ArthurMKane on Twitter. Kane is editor of the Overview-Journal’s investigative workforce, specializing in reporting that holds leaders and businesses accountable and exposes wrongdoing.

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