County manager search begins
An effort by county commissioner Barry Penzel to have all of the names of county manager applicants released was rejected by the board on Thursday, who said they would be comfortable with seeing a handful of finalists.
Penzel argued that anyone who was applying for the public position should be aware that their name would be revealed.
“If you’re applying for this job, good on you, but this is not a private sector job this is a public sector job,” he said. “How do you know you’re not letting that one gem get away?”
But he was the only vote against a process that would allow the county’s human resources department to winnow out candidates who aren’t qualified.
The discussion was prompted by the announcement that County Manager Larry Werner was retiring at the end of August.
Human Resources Director Wendy Lang said the county typically gets 60-100 applicants. She told commissioners she’s ready to start the recruitment process immediately.
The salary range for the position is $168,000-$235,000.
The position will be advertised for 30 days.
Complicating the recruitment process is the fact that both Carson City and the City of South Lake Tahoe will be conducting searches for managers.
Carson City Manager Nick Marano quit last month to take charge of a cannabis company.
South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry was placed on indefinite leave in early February. A month after being placed on leave, Kerry and the city struck a separation agreement.
The city has contracted with Washington-based recruiting firm Prothman to recruit candidates for both the city manager position and city attorney position.
The starting salary for that position was $215,000. The Carson City manager’s position is starting at $142,000, which Lang said was comparable to what Douglas was offering.
Commissioners Larry Walsh and Dave Nelson said they didn’t want to see the beginning salary go above $215,000, but both men voted in favor of the range.
“It sounds rich in terms of what we’ve had,” Penzel said. “It’s not rich if you’re talking about the current climate. In this day and age, I think you’re going to be sadly disappointed at who responds.”
Resident Jim Slade pointed out that the last time the county hired someone who wasn’t local was a disaster.
“I don’t think we always need to compete with urban centers,” he said. “We should also be looking at what the rural counties are paying. Most residents want our county to remain rural.”
Resident Lynn Muzzy asked commissioners to ensure that the next county manager is a registered Republican. Muzzy said he felt that in such a Republican county it is important that the county manager reflect residents’ sensibilities.
Chamber of Commerce Director Bill Chernock said he felt it was not necessary for a county manager applicant to come from the public sector.
“There are very talented managers working in the private sector, who would view this as a challenge they would like to take on,” he said.
Genoa resident Jim Hartman argued that the primary election was a vote of no-confidence in the commission. He urged county commissioners to wait until two new members are on the board before hiring a new county manager.
Nancy McDermid, who will be the first woman and only third person in Douglas County to reach a term limit, bristled at Hartman’s characterization of her as a lame duck.
“I’m not going to sit here and do nothing for the next six months,” she said. “I’m perfectly capable of determining what’s best for Douglas County.”
McDermid said she believes it is illegal to require a prospective employee to reveal their political affiliation.
Lang proposed bringing back a list in September, with interview meetings scheduled for the next two months.
She said that an offer could be extended in November. She said it’s standard for a new hire to give 30-60 days notice so it could be early 2019 before the new county manager arrives.