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County seeks manager contract extension

Werner

An extension of Larry Werner’s contract to serve as Douglas County manager is up for discussion by commissioners on Thursday.

Werner, 68, is under contract with the county to serve in the position after the resignation of prior County Manager Jim Nichols.

A 20-year Johnson Lane resident, Werner served as Carson City manager for a half dozen years. He resigned in 2013, and then was back in harness the next year when he took over Douglas County for six months after County Manager Steve Mokrohisky left in April 2014.

In January 2015, Werner was asked back to take the county manager’s position after commissioners and Nichols agreed to allow him to move on. Under a one year contract, Werner would be wrapping up in March 2017, three months after a new commission took office.

With the election of Larry Walsh and Dave Nelson, the majority of county commissioners has shifted.

Walsh said extending Werner’s contract will provide time to design a succession plan to promote the next county manager from within.

“We must develop such a program so in the future we have a pool of talent to choose from that understands our culture and has the vision to lead Douglas County to remain economically and socially vibrant as we compete with other rural counties in America,” he said. “…it makes sense in the meantime to stay the course with the interim manager until the new Board can not only weigh in on a permanent replacement but also to establish the policy to create a viable succession plan.

Under the proposal before county commissioners on Thursday, Werner’s contract would be extended through Dec. 31, 2017.

Werner would be paid a fixed cost of $14,333 a month with a $700 car allowance.

The total cost of the contract from now through December 2017 would be $240,528, or $180,396 a year, or the same amount he’s making now.

According to Douglas Deputy District Attorney Doug Ritchie, that represents a savings of $65,878 over the prior county manager.

Werner is the 10th full-time Douglas County manager since the position was first created in 1974.

While technically still an interim county manager, if he serves the entire time of the contract, he will have exceeded Nichols’ 16 months.

The second shortest period served by a county manager was Roland Adams, who lasted 18 months. That was about the same amount of time it took for the county to decide to try another county manager in the 1970s.

The longest serving county manager, by far, was Dan Holler, who lasted more than 11 years before taking a job as manager of Grass Valley, Calif.

Second longest was Bob Hadfield, who served for more than seven years. Hadfield also served as interim county manager for five months while the county sought County Manager Julio Avael.