New Minden manager starts Monday |

New Minden manager starts Monday

by Sheila Gardner

Minden’s new town manager, Jenifer Scott, is set to begin work Nov. 21 after board members approved a $73,403.20 salary at a special meeting Monday.

Scott, 29, who was office manager for China Spring Youth Camp, was hired from a pool of 38 applicants.

“I think you’ll have a lot of fun working with the board,” said Chairman John Stephans. “You’ve seen the openness on this board.”

The board turned down a stipulation for three months severance pay if Scott is terminated in the second year of the contract, or two months’ severance if in the first year.

The board agreed to 30 days severance at any time in the two-year contract.

They also rejected a condition supported by town board vice chair Steve Thaler that Scott be brought in with 10 years’ experience instead of the four years she has actually worked for Douglas County.

Thaler said giving Scott the extra credit would earn her three weeks of vacation instead of two. But town board member Matt Bernard, producing a copy of county personnel policies, said 10 years experience would give Scott four weeks of vacation.

“My belief is in the system,” Bernard said. “Whatever (vacation) level she’s at, she should stay at.”

Bernard said he didn’t think Scott should “leapfrog” two more weeks vacation over other employees.

Gardnerville Town Manager Tom Dallaire, who attended the special meeting, said county code provided a week of administrative leave for the position which could be used for vacation or sick time.

Dallaire told the board he works without a contract and also serves as town engineer.

Before he was named Gardnerville manager, Dallaire said he was covered by the protection of county employees who are not in at-will positions.

“I went through having all those protections to becoming an at-will employee,” Dallaire said. “I don’t think about it, because I am too busy during the day.”

Scott replaced Roger Van Alyne who resigned in July after 15 months with an $8,000 severance package. Had Van Alyne been under contract, he wouldn’t have been eligible for severance because he resigned rather than being terminated.

Condron, former Douglas High School principal and long-time school district employee, said a severance package wasn’t an unusual request.

“When you’re trying to work with five different bosses, a severance package offers you protection,” he said.

The benefit protects the employee if they are asked to move on, and keeps the town board from making a snap decision.

“It’s seen in the school district as a valuable component,” he said.

Scott said during public comment that she didn’t draft the contract, and whatever the board decided would not affect her decision to take the job.

“The portions of this contract that have me most excited have nothing to do with severance,” Scott said.

She said she was motivated by the opportunity to grow professionally and work for the Town of Minden.

The board re-elected Stephans chairman for another year at the suggestion of Condron.

Traditionally, the chairmanship has been one year, with the vice chair succeeding as chair.

“I’m making a unique motion,” Condron said. “I believe we really need consistency with three new board members this year, setting water rates and a new town manager.”

The motion passed unanimously.

“It was unexpected, but thank you,” Stephans said.

Bernard nominated Condron to serve as vice chair, the position currently held by Thaler.

Bernard said he made the motion because Stephans and Thaler are up for re-election next year and he wanted to assure continuity in the chairmanship.

That motion also passed unanimously.