Drivers on the 215 may not notice once they cross the border between Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., but anyone who lives there will be sure to tell you the difference.
Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen gave his State of the City Address yesterday, where he spoke of wanting more control over education of the city's students.
In addition to the planned opening of a third hospital in Nevada's second most populous city, Hafen also spoke of building a new fire station inside the master-planned community of Inspirada.
Hafen joins KNPR to talk about the state of Henderson, and challenges that lie ahead.
You and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman met with Homeland Security officials recently to talk about increasing funding. Did you and the mayor have a dollar amount in mind?
Last year, we got $3 million for Southern Nevada and of course, depending on where we land on that list, it could be anywhere from a million to 3 million or more.
Henderson's third hospital is supposed to open soon. Do you think the city can support it?
I really do. My vision for that area which would be basically 95 and Galleria and then going over to Boulder Highway would be almost like you see at Eastern and St. Rose. We'll have another complete medical campus in that area.
In your state of the city last year, you said that you had hoped that the legislative session would include discussions about 'local control' and 'home rule.' What is your feeling now?
The Legislature did pass a home rule bill. I think that there is a little bit of concern about that home rule bill. I'm not convinced that it got us to where we wanted it to be. The language in that bill leaves a lot to be desired. And right now, I'm not sure it's going to be very useful until we decide exactly what does that law mean to us.
Do you think it is time for yearly legislative sessions in Nevada?
Yes, I do. I would say at the very minimum every single year the Legislature should meet and do a budget. These biannual budgets, they're not good. Two years! You said what about legislating for two years, well what about how economics change. They really need to meet every year and do a budget.
So, if they did that. The off year, let's say the even year, wouldn't have to be 120 days. It could be shorter.
Has there been discussion about a tax increase for Henderson residents?
There's been some really high level discussions. I mean nothing really specific at this time. But it is still something we are going to have to take a look at. There are a lot of things in Henderson that we need to address and funding is going to be a critical issue.
What are the top three priorities that tax increases are needed for?
I'll give you a perfect one right now. Inspirada is due to have its own fire station. And right now, that's being pushed back a little bit because we don't have all the funding in place that we need. That was actually going to be a turnkey fire station. The developer submitted funds as part of the development agreement well that was years ago. And now fire stations are costing a little bit more and we don't have a way to fund that gap.
What about salaries?
I think we've done a very good job as far as salaries go. I know it is kind of a contentious issue at times, but I think to our credit, we want to have the best people we can get and sometimes pay is one of those things that attracts good people who work for you.
Do you think it is time for the Legislature to retire the property tax cap?
I don't think that it's time to retire that cap, but certainly we should look at when property values decrease. I mean it was a one-way street with that tax cap. Honestly, I supported that. We were growing so fast. We would sometimes see properties double in value over a short period of time.
But nobody took into consideration of going backwards. And I can tell you in the city of Henderson we've lost about 30 percent of our capacity as far as property taxes go.
What is Henderson's greatest economic challenge?
Right now, we're not out of the woods as far as our property tax revenue and our sales tax revenue. So that we have to keep an eye on it. Economically, though we see more building going on in the city of Henderson. We see new business and so that is what we're really going to have to capitalize right now. Jobs, of course and making sure that the economy continues to grow.
What would you like to see as far as schools and education in Henderson?
I would like to see our own school district in the city of Henderson. I believe there are a lot of residents that feel that way. Short of that, because that's not going to happen.
What we would like, short of having our own district, would be to have a precinct that includes our corporate boundaries. That we would have a school board for that precinct. That we would have our own superintendent for that precinct and then we would have a member of that precinct school board be on, what I'm calling, the Clark County School District Board, which would be kind of a clearinghouse now.
We just want autonomy. Because this is all about students and making sure that our students are educated in Clark County. I think having that autonomy in the city of Henderson, we would be more responsive to that student and education.
Andy Hafen, mayor, Henderson, Nev.
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