By Rachel O'Brien, Deputy Policy Editor, OpenTheBooks
Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson spent over $1 million collectively last year paying employees who weren’t working.
Employees on paid administrative leave made up to $139 an hour in Clark County, up to $115 per hour in Las Vegas and up to $62 per hour in Henderson, according to payroll records obtained by OpentheBooks.com through Nevada Public Records Act requests.
Henderson records showed that administrative leave can be taken for a number of reasons, including being under investigation for allegation of wrongdoing, pending result of felony charges, a suspension with pay for a violation, a pre-disciplinary process, a leave pending resignation, and more.
Not all leave is negative in nature, some leave may be taken for an employee who is attending a work-related training/conference on a duty day, or time off prior to promotional testing when it falls on a duty day, as well as for medical reasons, including Covid-related leave, according to Henderson.
While Henderson provided potential reasons for paid leave, the city didn’t identify reasons for each specific employee.
Las Vegas only identified each employee’s reason for leave as “ERD Investigation” — or Employee Relations Division — (16 people) or “No ERD Investigation,” which accounted for the vast majority of employees who took paid leave. Of those 16 people on leave for an ERD investigation, 13 no longer work for the city.
Clark County, which employs more than 10,000 people, neither identified which employee left for which reason, nor provided a list of potential reasons for leave. The county also didn’t provide names of employees, while Las Vegas and Henderson did provide employee names.
In total, Clark County paid $388,776 to 279 people, or 3% of its employees. The average payout was $1,393, with an average hourly pay of $47.60. Employees that made $100 per hour or more were in the double digits.
An unidentified airport employee made $139 per hour for 40 hours, a $5,560 total. A Commission & Manager employee also made $139 per hour for 80 hours, collecting more than $11,000. Another Commission & Manager employee made almost $124 per hour for 50 hours, totaling almost $6,200.
Ten employees that were paid for administrative leave no longer work for the county, according to the records.
“In both the private and public sectors, employees work to earn their leave, a significant benefit for a healthy workforce,” Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa said. “As the largest government workforce in our region serving 2.3 million residents, Clark County employees work hard and accrue leave that they are able to use at their discretion, and for the majority of our workforce these leave accruals are negotiated with collective bargaining units. It is important that Clark County has a skilled workforce in place to best serve our community and we offer competitive benefits to help ensure we can recruit and retain our talent.”
The City of Las Vegas, which employs under 4,000 people, spent $329,695 on under 600 people, or 15% of its employees.
The payouts averaged $550 per person, with an average pay of almost $33 an hour. Fewer than 40 Las Vegas employees made more than $50 an hour.
The employee on leave with the highest hourly pay was City Attorney Bryan Scott, not for an ERD investigation. He made $107 per hour for 20 hours of leave in January and February last year, and $115 per hour for 45 hours of leave in August and October, for a total of $7,336 last year.
Las Vegas Fire & Rescue employees accounted for $86,000 of the total spending.
Fire Captain Joseph P. Vanek collected almost $12,000 in September and October while on leave for 288 hours for an ERD investigation. He’s no longer employed by the city, records show.
Four other director-level people made between $80 and $90 per hour.
Yale Yeandel, a theater set designer, was paid almost $17,000 for 520 hours of leave May-July for an ERD investigation. He’s no longer employed by the city, records show.
Of the total, 173employees that were paid for administrative leave last year no longer work for the City of Las Vegas, according to the records.
Las Vegas City spokesman Jace Radke said, “It is the city’s practice not to comment on personnel issues.”
The City of Henderson, which employs 3,200 people, spent the most per employee, with 37 people making nearly $300,000 combined, or $8,100 per person on average. Henderson paid more than $40 per hour on average to the less than 2% of its employees who took administrative leave.
There were eight employees on leave for 400 hours or more each — that’s 10 weeks at 40 hours per week.
The Henderson Police Department accounted for the majority of the paid leave, spending $216,000 on 19 employees, averaging $9,000 each. Police Officer Aron O’Connor collected over $45,000 for 930 hours of paid leave between April and September.
The Parks & Recreation Department was next highest, with a $37,000 paid leave payroll for five employees, including two people for about three months each.
Unlike Clark County and Las Vegas, Henderson didn’t provide the current employment status of the people who took paid administrative leave last year.
Representative for Henderson didn’t respond to a request for comment by our deadline.