Childs to be named next city manager
The search for a South Lake Tahoe city manager has ended.
David Childs, city manager of Minnetonka, Minn. since 1993, has accepted the City Council’s offer for the chief position in the only incorporated city in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Mayor Tom Davis said the council’s top choice of the pool of 70 applicants came quickly.
“I think we discussed it for about 40 minutes in closed session,” Davis said. “Any one of the three (top candidates) would have made fine city managers but Childs just impressed us that much more.”
More than 20 years of city management experience backs Childs’ resume.
Before his job in Minnetonka, Childs served as city manager to New Brighton, Minn. – a town roughly the same size as South Lake Tahoe. He also managed St. Anthony and Blue Earth, two smaller Minnesotan cities with populations of less than 10,000 residents.
In the 1970s, Childs held various administrative positions in Arizona communities, including principal planner of the city of Yuma and director of physical and human resources in Florence.
Davis said Childs’ well-rounded background is just what South Lake Tahoe needs.
“We really wanted someone with a strong redevelopment background, financial experience and a knack for human resources – especially now since we’re in the middle of employee negotiations,” Davis said. “To be frank, I think we have a morale issue in the city because we’re in a time of transition.”
Childs’ five-year contract, which hasn’t been formalized yet, begins with an annual salary of $105,000, with a cap at $110,000. A nine-month severance deal, health insurance package, paid vacation and sick leave and up to $14,000 in moving expenses have also been included.
As manager of a midwestern town with 53,000 residents, the move for Childs is comparable in compensation but could be considered a step down the career ladder.
He said he chooses to view it differently.
“I am moving to a smaller community but I am doing that consciously. I’m leaving at the peak when things are going really well here – I just had my performance review and it’s the best it’s ever been,” Childs said. “It’s a move toward living in a place where I want to live and doing the kind of work that I like – for me that’s a really great marriage.”
Childs said he had a pact with Barbara, his wife of 13 years, that they would someday live in a mountain community. With their two sons grown and out of the house, South Lake Tahoe’s city manager position came along with perfect timing.
The timing is ideal for South Lake Tahoe, which is about to embark on a redevelopment mission that’s been in the making almost a decade. It’s also trying to resuscitate a struggling airport and settle contract negotiations with five of its seven employee bargaining groups – under the direction of a council that sometimes doesn’t agree.
Childs, 48, said he welcomes any challenges South Lake Tahoe might toss his way.
“It looks like I’ll have a full plate when I come in the door, but I think they hired me because I have many parallel experiences with redevelopment, financial background, the environment and employee relations,” he said. “The way I see it, differing opinions are good if we can have respectful, open conversations and then make a decision that is going to provide the best outcome for the city.”
The position was vacated in October when Kerry Miller, who served as South Lake Tahoe’s manager for 12 years, accepted a city manager position in Encinitas, Calif.
In Miller’s absence, Assistant City Manager Sue Schlerf has taken charge.
Davis said Schlerf will return to her post as soon as Childs relocates to town.
“Sue brings many resources and history to the city – she has an expertise in transportation and redevelopment issues,” Davis said. “I want to thank her for acting as city manager and keeping us afloat in challenging times.”
The council will officially take action on its decision at the April 4 meeting. Childs expects to start work on June 5 but will make a few trips to the South Shore before the start of his tenure to look for a place to live.
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