New ‘Piglet Book’ Cites Wasteful Spending By Nevada State And Local Government Agencies

Nevada’s state and local governments have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars over the past two years through lavish and wasteful spending – in some cases by outright theft – according to a new study from the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

The report, titled “The Nevada Piglet Book 2010” and authored by NPRI fiscal policy analyst Geoffrey Lawrence, details what he calls numerous examples of government waste over the past two years, including credit-card abuse, a sweetheart land deal for a former Las Vegas city councilman and local governments spending millions of dollars to lobby the state legislature.

“Contrary to the cries over the past two years that all levels of Nevada government have been ‘cut to the bone,’ this report reveals that government waste and inefficiencies are widespread,” Lawrence said. “What’s worse is that the millions of dollars in waste revealed in this report are likely just the tip of the iceberg.”

The study’s findings resulted from hundreds of public records requests to state and local governments and a review of dozens of city, county and state audits. The study reveals that many wasteful practices that NPRI documented previously in “The Nevada Piglet Book 2008” continue even today – despite politicians’ pledges to be more responsible with public money.

Among the questionable spending identified in the report are high public employee salaries and benefits, particularly for many firefighters who work in Southern Nevada, the failure of several agencies to perform their assigned tasks and inappropriate purchases by individual public employees.

The report also highlights the costs incurred by local governments to lobby the Legislature. During the 2009 session, Nevada local governments spent $3.2 million to lobby lawmakers in Carson City over a four-month period, including $951,324 spent by county governments, $1,061,473 spent by cities, and $509,337 spent by school districts. Special districts, such as the Southern Nevada Water Authority, also spent $618,191 on lobbying.

Erik Pappa, director of public communications for Clark County, said in response that county has changed its practices regarding lobbying the Legislature.

“We are no longer using paid lobbyists,” he said. “We rely upon county staff to provide information to state legislators.”

Lawrence said government agencies need to be more transparent.

“Until all levels of government become more transparent and put their spending checkbooks online for citizens to examine, as other states already have done, this type of waste will continue,” he said.

Lawrence noted that since the Texas Comptroller’s Office began putting itemized expenditure data online in 2007, Texas taxpayers have realized $51 million in cost savings simply by identifying areas of wasteful or inefficient spending.

The state of Nevada has posted much of its spending information for public review.

“The Nevada Piglet Book 2010 barely scratches the surface of the mountain of taxpayer dollars wasted by Nevada’s state and local government bureaucracies,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. “Nevadans deserve a more fiscally responsible and transparent state government. From sweetheart deals for local politicians to exorbitant salaries for government employees, there is plenty of fat that can be trimmed.”

The Nevada Policy Research Institute is a free-market think tank that seeks private solutions to public challenges facing Nevada, the West and the nation. Citizens Against Government Waste is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, mismanagement and inefficiency in government.

  • Sam55

    Good grief! I get so tired of reading that state employees are overpaid and have “cadillac benefits.” Overall, state employees in NV are ranked 33rd out of the states when it comes to salaries. Engineers who work for the state of Nevada earn about 30% less than in the private sector.

    Professionals who work for the state have college degrees (sometimes two or three) and conduct highly skilled and specialized work. Any comparison of state wages vs. private sector must take into account the level of education and experience (i.e., compare apples to apples).

    As for benefits; the private companies I’ve worked for provided benefits that exceed those offered by the state. The current benefits are so-so and the proposed cuts to state worker benefits are dreadful and amount to very large pay cuts.

    State workers do not get bonuses when times are good, yet those who get their kicks bashing state workers see fit to complain loudly (off with their heads!) when economic times are bad. We’re only 1% of all Nevadans; we’re highly educated and dedicated (but, sure, there are always a few bad apples in any bushel); and we provide services that many simply take for granted.

    If you want clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, roads in good repair, and other functioning infrastructure, then you need us.


  • michael

    please, fire fighters in Southern Nevada make 3 1/2 times the national average; $174,000.00 compared to ave. $50K (70% of all ff in U.S. are volunteers)
    Cops in the same area make 3 Xs nat. ave. $150,000.00 compared to $50K.
    FACTS are Nevada pays out 1 billion every year, 2 billion every budget OVER and ABOVE private sector.
    Now not all get that, teachers are about average. So some make an UN-GODLY amount. Our higest paid fire fighter made $444,000.00 (more than the President of the U.S.)

  • D Christenson

    If we can’t get control of government (at all levels) this year, we may never have another chance. It was recently reported that my little town of about 15k has a public employee payroll of over 17 MILLION. All these “feel-good” programs must be identified, prioritized, publicized and evaluated for cost/benefit to the TAXPAYER. I think the City of Bell, CA was a wake-up………..I hope it’s not too late.