Washoe County’s top executive is set to retire in two months and commissioners will soon decide on how to go about replacing him, some hinting they’d likely appoint an interim manager while conducting a national search.
“We can advertise locally and then we can do a national search. I personally would like to see us look; we’ll call it locally, even though it’ll go out to as far as the internet reaches,” Commission Chair Vaughn Hartung said. “If we don’t get a successful candidate at that point, then we’ll spend the $250,000 and do a national search. But the board has to make that decision.”
John Slaughter has been county manager for the past five years and was selected after a national search. He began at Washoe County in 1986 and has worked as a land use planner, the strategic planning manager, and director of management services. He also represented Washoe County at the Nevada Legislature from 2001-2013. He announced last week that he plans to retire June 14.
Commissioner Kitty Jung noted Slaughter was a planner specialist and previous county manager Katy Simon Holland was a financial expert. However, she’d like to see someone who is multifaceted.
“A national search shows to people who they have to work with that they have been fully vetted,” Jung said. “I think we need someone with a masters in public administration who knows how to take all these experts and deploy them appropriately.”
Commissioner Bob Lucey said an open discussion is needed to determine what qualities are needed in the next manager.
“It’s not like a city manager who just deals with a council,” Lucey said. “You have elected department heads who run a jail, the treasurer’s office, the clerk’s office, an assessor…individuals who are responsible for many things,” Lucey said. “There’s a lot of different dichotomy here we have to be addressing.”
Jung also had some words for anybody who thinks Slaughter earns too much. His take-home pay is nearly $250,000, with total pay and benefits at $324,627, according to Transparent Nevada.
“Look at the FTEs (full-time equivalents) and look at the budget size,” Jung said. “Who else would do it for anything less? This human being, unfortunately, has to be available 24/7 and their family does suffer terribly. How much does he really make per hour? Probably pennies when you look at how many hours he puts into in a year.”
A decision on how to move forward with hiring a new manager is expected next week.