Commission withholds raise for county manager

Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates

Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates

On Thursday, Douglas County commissioners voted 3-2 to withhold a raise from County Manager Patrick Cates.

Commission Chairman John Engels, and commissioners Walt Nowosad and Mark Gardner voted for the motion that gave Cates a 0-percent salary increase.

Engels said that Cates was the highest paid manager in Northern Nevada.

Cates makes $208,333 a year compared to Washoe County Manager Eric Brown, who makes $250,952 after his evaluation in December, according to Washoe County. Brown’s responsibilities do not extend to Reno or Sparks, which have their own governments and are the third and ninth largest cities in Nevada.

Last year during the coronavirus lockdown, Cates refused a raise recognizing the county’s potential financial issues after receiving a satisfactory review.

A year after Dave Nelson was defeated and a petition effort to stop the Park 2500 project failed, Nelson’s spouse Jeanne Shizuru, a Gardnerville resident opened public comment by excoriating Cates.

“I wait for the day he is terminated,” she said.

Much of Shizuru’s argument was related to Muller Lane Parkway.

Support for Cates came from Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby, Dave Brady and Dan Aynesworth.

Brady, a former county commissioner and school board trustee, said Cates provided the continuity the county required.

While county watchdog Jim Slade said he was disappointed with Cates’ support for the Park Ranch Holdings project, he pointed out that Cates and Willoughby navigated the county through a very difficult time.

Engels has been vocal in his criticism of Cates in connection with a December 2020 transfer of CARES Act money to the general fund.

At the time a majority of the county commission voted for the transfer, which the county said was reimbursement for expenses related to the coronavirus outbreak before the federal money was approved. Engels threatened legal action over the transfer of the money from the general fund to the Regional Transportation Commission where it is being used for engineering on the controversial parkway.

The following month, after being made chairman and with an apparent majority, Engels sought to claw back the money, but lost a critical vote.

The county is obligated to build the parkway by 2025. Cates said Thursday that hopes there would be a federal grant to fund the route were dashed when the Biden administration changed the rules.

The last estimate on the cost to build two lanes of the Parkway, which is all the county is obligated to do, was around $12 million.

When contacted by The Record-Courier after the meeting Cates declined comment. 

In Nevada, public officials are required to be evaluated in public and those evaluations are subject to public comment.



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