Award Date

Summer 2010

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Public Administration

Advisor 1

Christopher Stream

Number of Pages



The economic indicators for the state of Nevada indicate a bleak financial future. The foreclosure rate of the Las Vegas Valley is five times the national average and the highest rate in the country (Hoak, 2010). Sales tax revenues continue spiraling down and fell by 6.6 percent in December 2009 from December 2008 (Garcia, 2010). State politicians face an estimated budget deficit of $3.5 billion. Local conditions are equally dire. The City of Las Vegas faces a budget shortfall of nearly $69 million for this fiscal year (Choate, 2010). City administrators struggle to find creative solutions to fill financial gaps and must make difficult decisions to reduce, consolidate or eliminate services and programs. The city’s Department of Leisure Services is no exception and administrators are examining ways to make fiscal cuts to the unit’s budget and increase efficiency. The department, which strives to bolster residents’ quality of life, provides services to all Las Vegans and has programs specifically targeting youth, seniors, and low-income families. The department has historically operated under what staff members describe as a social model, making decisions that maximize access without looking at data or efficiency. In light of current fiscal concerns, they hope to make the switch to a business enterprise model of operations that will maximize efficiency and allow for a focus on cost recovery that does not price out Las Vegans from utilizing services. To assist with city administrators’ aspirations to increase cost recovery throughout the department, this paper examines the fiscal and operational challenges at one of six Las Vegas senior centers in an effort to gauge the price elasticity of demand for services. Based on qualitative and quantitative data, the authors crafted seven recommendations to help the Centennial Hills Active Adult Center (CHAAC) create a business plan that allows for the cost recovery of at least 15% of its operational expenses. Those recommendations consist of the following: a change in pricing; increased emphasis on data collection and marketing; more efficient scheduling; an emphasis on seeking alternative funding; the development of a strategic plan for the center to include specific goals, objectives and performance measurements; a review of the center’s relationship to the YMCA; and increased transportation to and from the center. These recommendations will ensure the seniors of Las Vegas have an opportunity for a continuing relationship with the leisure services department. The authors hope this research may assist city officials in the months to come as they deliberate difficult decisions that will impact thousands of Las Vegas seniors and help administrators protect vital services.


Budget deficits; County services – Finance; Local budgets; Local finance; Nevada – Las Vegas; Senior centers – Cost control; Senior centers – Finance


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Administration | Public Affairs | Public Economics | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




Summary, Appendix and Presentation attached. Presentation consists of 22 PowerPoint slides.


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