IVGID trustee Wong addresses exodus of district staff | TahoeDailyTribune.com

IVGID trustee Wong addresses exodus of district staff

Laney Griffo

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village General Improvement District Trustee Kendra Wong gave an emotional statement in defense of district staff during Wednesday’s board meeting.

There has been an exodus of staff over the last few months, most recently with the unexpected resignation of the head of human resources, Dee Carey.

“Staff are leaving because they don’t feel supported by the board,” Wong said.

Wong added that it’s not the fault of General Manager Indra Winquest, who she said the staff enjoy working for. Instead, she directly named Trustee Sara Schmitz, members of the audit committee and to a lesser extent Vice Chair Matthew Dent. Chair Tim Callicrate told her to stay away from directly naming people and said her point had been made.

She went on to say a select group of community members have gone on “witch hunts,” and the board has allowed them to voice their accusations and attacks during public comment. While there are several voices who comment at every meeting, she said they don’t speak for the whole community.

A former IVGID employee also spoke during public comment stating the exodus would continue as long as the board didn’t show support for staff.

While the board discussed several items that would impact residents of the district, including the utility rate and community services projects, public comment mostly focused on the proposed code of conduct for trustees and committee members. The public claimed it was an attempt by the district to clamp down on the trustee’s free speech and violated Nevada Revised Statutes.

Callicrate said the purpose of the code wasn’t to violate anyone’s right to free speech but rather an informal agreement between trustees and committee members about how they should act.

While the public did say that wasn’t necessary, there have been countless meetings in the past that have erupted into yelling matches between trustees.

Winquest said the code of conduct would also address the behavior of one unnamed member of the audit committee.

While Winquest did not name names, earlier in the meeting Wong said she’d like to see an item on the agenda to address audit committee member Cliff Dobler’s behavior during meetings and decide whether he should be allowed to continue in that role.

As far as the code of conduct goes, Callicrate asked trustees to send their thoughts to legal counsel and have the item brought back in the future.

During the meeting, the board approved a contract with Raftelis for utilities management review and asset assessment. The contract includes an evaluation of IVGID Public Works’ organizational structure and staffing, review of operational efficiency, and review of financial and capital investment which is meant to find inefficiencies and save the district money by cleaning those up. The proposed contract passed 4-1 with Wong voting no.

Because of the Raftelis review, the board directed staff to hold off on raising the utility rate for the time being. Between the asset assessment and a possible future rate study, the district should have a clearer view this summer of how much the district would need from the utility rate. At this point, raising it would be an arbitrary decision.

The board also approved a contract with Tri-Strategies for representation at the Nevada State Legislative session starting in February.

The list of bills has not been announced so it’s unclear what bills will impact the district. However, Dent and Wong both mentioned times in the past when the district didn’t have representation and had to hurry to get someone down there last minute. New trustee Michaela Tonking, who has spent a lot of time at the legislature, recommended having someone there because of how quickly decisions can be made and bills can be discussed with little heads up.

The board approved the contract 4-1, with Schmitz voting no.

The board also discussed the community service fund. With several budget planning workshops scheduled for the near future, the board didn’t make any decisions about fund designations. Rather, the point of the item was to show the public that the board is aware of the excess community service fund and to show with the amount of projects on the docket, that excess will be spent down aggressively over the next year or so.

Finally, with the new board came board elections. Callicrate was reelected chair and Dent was reelected vice chair. Tonking was elected treasurer and Schmitz elected secretary. That slate passed 3-2 with Dent and Schmitz both voting no. They had wanted to see Dent step into the chair role and Callicrate take the vice chair role.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 20.

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