Brennan vacates top Nevada County position
Nevada County’s top administrator will leave next month to take charge of the city government for Sebastopol, a small town in Sonoma County.
On paper, the move for County Administrator David Brennan might not seem that impressive. Brennan declined to specify how much he’ll earn, although he indicated it’s comparable to his current annual salary of $92,796, but offers better benefits. He also will oversee 45 employees, whereas Nevada County has about 900.
Because of the way counties and cities are funded, being in charge of a city government means being less “subject to the whims of the state in terms of financing,” Brennan said.
He also will have a freer hand to operate. While six of Nevada County’s department heads are elected, Brennan said all department heads in Sebastopol are appointed by the city manager.
“It is a less-complex, less-demanding job,” Brennan said. “I am looking for that.”
Sebastopol, a city of about 7,740, is near the coastal redwoods, the Russian River and – a big plus for him – the ocean, said Brennan, who enjoys scuba diving and diving for abalone.
“I am looking forward to living within 10 miles of the coast,” Brennan said.
Brennan’s last day in Nevada County will be Aug. 10. After that, Assistant County Administrator Tom Miller will be in charge of administering the county under county rules, unless the Board of Supervisors decides otherwise, Brennan said.
Brennan, 47, worked as an assistant city manager of Brentwood until coming to Nevada County in July 1993 as assistant county administrator. He assumed the county administrator’s job in April 1995.
During his tenure, Brennan said he faced many hurdles: the closing of the troubled county landfill; the completion of the General Plan; replacement of the aging and undersized juvenile hall, which is still in the works; and “beating back” the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed but later dismissed fraud charges against the county over Mello-Roos bonds the county issued in 1990.
The county library budget also faced steep cuts, but rebounded thanks to a new sales tax. Brennan said the county now has one of the best library systems it has ever had. Overall, the county is in a stronger fiscal position, balancing the budget and revenues for the past two years – a feat it will repeat for the third straight year, thanks to the efforts of many in county government, Brennan said.
“It has been very challenging, but I think we have been pretty successful,” Brennan said.
Sebastopol faces its own challenges. City employees recently received their first pay raise in three years, Brennan said. City leaders want Brennan to pursue revenue-generating opportunities to bolster municipal coffers, he explained.
The two longest-serving supervisors praised Brennan for his fiscal management.
Under Brennan, the county is no longer depleting its budget reserve and has reorganized to reverse declining service levels, said Supervisor Sam Dardick.
“We have had many difficulties over the years, and David has always been in a stressful situation,” Dardick said. “All in all, I think David has done a good job.”
Finding someone as fiscally adept as Brennan is going to be the county’s “biggest challenge,” said Supervisor Karen Knecht.
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