Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011 | 7:41 p.m.
After several key employees, including the city attorney and acting city manager, left this summer, North Las Vegas is adding a crucial member to its team: a new city manager.
In a 4-1 vote, the City Council on Wednesday night ratified the appointment of Timothy Hacker. He starts next week.
Hacker, the former city manager of Mesquite, was the only candidate considered for the position.
Hacker will receive a $180,000 annual salary, plus benefits. His contract includes a six-month severance package if he is released without cause.
The Sun had a chance to sit down and talk with Hacker. Here is what he had to say about how he came to arrive in North Las Vegas and what he thinks needs to happen to get the financially struggling municipality back on track.
Why did you take the job, seeing as how North Las Vegas has gone through a tumultuous economic year?
I’ve been in Southern Nevada since February 2006 and have watched North Las Vegas since then. I had been envious in their preparation and plans that they’ve made as a commercial industrial hub. The financial woes are the reality of not just Southern Nevada, but what’s being felt across the nation.
I’m familiar with those challenges. I’ve got the contacts and made the relationships and look forward to being a part of the team to bring North Las Vegas back to where it was.
What were you doing before you were appointed as city manager of North Las Vegas?
I was the city manager in Mesquite from February 2006 to May of this year. I also worked in the Midwest in chief-appointed department head roles, as city manager, city administrator and senior planner — a mixture of roles in career preparation to what I’ve been doing as city manager. I have 22 years of experience and 20 years as a member of the International City/County Management Association.
Why were you suddenly let go at your last post in Mesquite?
I was surprised. It was a 3-2 vote of the council. Two of them talked to me about it and the three who voted for it never spoke to me about it. I was an at-will employee and the average city manager serves for three to five years. When you get over five years, you take some satisfaction.
I don’t want to speculate, but the tough economic times just caught up with the mayor and City Council and they chose to release me.
What lessons have you learned in the past as city manager of Mesquite and Kewanee, Ill.?
It’s to recognize your role in the organization, trying to gain as much clarity and work with the elected and your constituents. The city needs a resource finder, and that’s where the city manager comes in. Now the pressure is on growing a local economy. I think it’s an important part of what I’m going to be doing in North Las Vegas.
What changes do you feel the city of North Las Vegas needs to make to get back on track?
The first week, I will continue to get to know key staff and elected officials. I need to continue to grow my base of knowledge on the city’s issues. I think we have to limit our focus to critical elements, the fiscal realities like revenue streams, improving cost containment, balancing the budget and building an acceptable amount of reserves.
We have to build a community of resilience, so when you have unforeseen challenges you’re able to respond effectively. We must narrow the focus to the important elements to see any improvement. There has got to be a more sustainable plan, and we should be hitting benchmarks as far as reserves.
Several people have left the city in the past few years, are you here for the long haul?
Yes, I am. I see North Las Vegas as really having situated itself very well, so when the economy turns around the city will be fine. North Las Vegas has done a great job of building a framework. I want to stay in the community as long as I possibly can and as long as I am effective. I’m going to stay committed.