South Lake Tahoe City Council hires new city manager
South Lake Tahoe will have a new city manager come December.
City Council approved a contract Tuesday with Frank Rush Jr., the 17-year town manager of Emerald Isle, North Carolina.
“He is an outstanding candidate,” Mayor Wendy David said prior to the vote.
As previously reported by the Tribune, some candidates running for City Council had called into question the timing of the decision, with an election less than a month away. Some of those sentiments were repeated Tuesday.
“It just looks way better across the board,” Cody Bass, a council candidate and executive director of Tahoe Wellness Cooperative, said in encouraging council to postpone the decision until after the election.
Bass clarified that his comments were not intended as criticism of Rush and his qualifications — it was about the process, he said.
Councilors disagreed. Tom Davis, who has been a part of numerous hiring processes, said Rush is one of the most qualified candidates he has ever seen, and he is coming in with no agenda and an open mind.
Davis pushed back against Bass’ plea to postpone the vote, saying that waffling on the decision after Rush had already given notice to Emerald Isle would pose a nightmarish situation.
“This is our job and our responsibility,” Davis said. “We’re the elected officials.”
Mayor David recalled when she was first elected to council four years ago. Immediately after the election, council voted on a major issue prior to the newly elected council’s swearing in. The city manager at the time explained that the outgoing council had put the work in, and it was their decision to make.
David said she understood Bass’ opinion, but repeated her previous remark that it was this council’s decision.
“This council has taken (the city manager search) very seriously and put in many, many, many hours … to find the very best candidate,” she said.
Councilor Austin Sass pointed out each member of the current council, whether in the public or private sector, has plenty of experience hiring executives.
Councilor Jason Collin echoed many of the other councilors’ comments, adding that the process was very thorough.
Rush, who previously told the Tribune he was excited about the opportunity to work in South Lake Tahoe, is held in high regard in Emerald Isle, a coastal town largely driven by tourism.
“Frank is arguably the best town manager in America — and I mean that with all sincerity,” Emerald Isle Commissioner Jim Normile told South Lake Tahoe City Council members in an email. “Albeit my heart is literally broken that he will be leaving us in Emerald Isle, please rest assured — you have hired a good and decent family man with an unparalleled work ethic. I know that Suzanne and the boys are also excited to be a part of the South Lake Tahoe community as well.”
Rush will start with an annual base salary of $200,000 and will be subject to performance reviews at a minimum of once per year.
He also will receive up to $5,000 for moving expenses, $150 per month for personal mobile phone service, and a $500 per month vehicle allowance for traveling within El Dorado County. Travel outside the county would be reimbursed on a per-mile rate.
Dec. 5 will be his first official day on the job.