City manager hunt goes national

A national net will be cast for Carson City’s next city manager, and an interim ineligible for the permanent post will be named by the Board of Supervisors.

Those Thursday actions by the board left another shoe yet to drop, however, at the next meeting on Nov. 21 when that interim city manager is expected to be named. The national search firm also will be selected then.

The board declined to name an interim immediately, instead asking anyone considering it on city staff or in the city to send a letter of interest in handling city management short term while the search to find a replacement for outgoing City Manager Larry Werner takes place. Werner last month submitted his resignation effective Dec. 19, which leaves time before the interim is needed.

“Carson City runs itself pretty well,” said Supervisor John McKenna near the beginning of a lengthy and wide-ranging discussion preceding the board’s decisions. He suggested the board consider whether it even needed a city manager, whether decisions now would allow flattening of management methods, and if the fact some departments are headed by elected rather than appointed people didn’t require such dialogue.

“That discussion needs to take place,” he said. He also feared a national search could wind up being a beauty contest and added he is looking toward the bottom line.

“I just want to save money,” McKenna said.

But in the end, the view of Mayor Robert Crowell and others proved the route taken, and it was McKenna who made the motion to seek a national search firm at a cost not to exceed $50,000. The mayor said that for starters, he didn’t feel he should be directing the city in an emergency, should one arise.

“From that standpoint alone, a city manger is needed, I also lean toward a national search,” he said, so the process can “take a wide brush. We might learn things ... by going through the drill.”

Crowell was neither first nor alone in saying a city manager is needed despite McKenna’s preference for a different dialogue.

“Every band needs an orchestra leader,” said Supervisor Karen Abowd.

It was Abowd who went her own way when it came to the third issue before the board. The first issue was on a national search, the second whether to name an interim and the third was whether that interim would be considered eligible at the same time to be in the pool of candidates for the permanent post.

“I’m torn,” she said, but ended up the lone “no” vote on the motion, saying the interim won’t be considered for the permanent position.

Supervisor Jim Shirk focused on the permanent choice, saying it “is the most important decision” for the city’s future, and he pushed again for that choice to be or become a Carson City resident. Werner, a Carson City native, lived in Douglas County.

McKenna, meanwhile, kept the door ajar slightly to hopes any interim might still harbor, asserting the board later could decide to rescind that aspect should the search process prove fruitless and the interim best. But he supported the motion adopted Thursday because, he indicated, some in the community think things might be rigged.

“They think this is all part of a plot that started back when Marena was appointed” deputy, he said, speaking of Deputy City Manager Marena Works.

Supervisor Brad Bonkowski advocated and stuck to his guns for that motion as well, saying two weeks gives anyone contemplating what to do time to go either way. Many names were mentioned during staff and board discussion of the interim, among them those of Works, Public Works Director Andy Burnham and Fire Chief Stacey Giomi.

Works early in the discussion told the board she would do what they asked, but after the board’s decisions she wasn’t prepared to say whether she would send in a letter to be interim or take her chances in a national search. Burnham told the board he had done the interim job years ago and wasn’t interested. Giomi said he would do it if it came to that, remaining fire chief while wearing both hats.

Melanie Bruketta, head of city human resources, said she has vetted nine possible search firms and would recommend three from which the board can select one in two weeks. She pegged probable cost at $25,000 to $35,000.


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