Changing of the guard at PUD | SierraSun.com
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Changing of the guard at PUD

The Board of Directors at the Truckee Donner Public Utility District lost over 30 years of institutional memory on Wednesday as Jim Maass and Nelson Van Gundy stepped down.Maass, who is moving out of the district to a new home in Sparks, did not run for re-election this year because district rules require directors to live within the district. A veteran with almost 28 years of service on the district’s board, Maass has seen the utility through a number of important stages in its development.”I remember being first elected to the board – I didn’t sleep at all that night,” he said. “It was way back in February of 1977 and I knew this day would come but it’s kind of a mixed blessing.”I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done for the district for nearly 28 years, but I’m also looking forward to a new phase in my life…”Van Gundy, who lost his re-election campaign earlier this month after four and a half years on the district board, said that he will miss working with the district’s staff.”I’m still very impressed with the quality of the people who work here. The staff is just first rate, and the more exposure that anyone gets to them, the more they’ll realize that,” Van Gundy said. “It’s been a real pleasure working with them.”Filling the seats left by Maass and Van Gundy will be first-time directors Bill Thomason and Tim Taylor, both of whom will have to quickly get up to speed with the district’s ongoing water, electric and broadband projects.Meanwhile, at the district’s last board of directors meeting on Nov. 3, the board voted four-to-one to increase General Manager Peter Holzmeister’s salary by three percent to $127,308.Last year Holzmeister made $123,600, and the 3 percent raise was consistent with the three percent salary increases that the district’s union, management and exempt employees received earlier this year.Director Ron Hemig expressed his admiration for the job that Holzmeister has done, saying that the new salary range would help keep the district competitive with other special districts in the area.”I personally, and I think I speak on behalf of the board, think that Peter is one of the finest general managers district wide in our area,” Hemig said. “His pay is probably mid-range compared to others in the same position in other districts throughout our territory. He’s certainly paid a nice amount of pay, but I’m not sure he’s not worth more. I feel very good about him,” he said.Holzmeister’s raise brings his salary in-line with those of the general managers of other local districts. Pat Sutton, who voted no on Holzmeister’s raise, worried that the directors are boosting salaries too quickly given the district’s finances.”I voted no on [Holzmeister’s raise] because he had gotten a raise last year and the board had established a salary range and they put him at the top of the salary range, so if they wanted to give him a raise they had to create a new salary range,” Sutton said. “And it seems to me we ought to be creating a salary range that lasts for five years or something,” she said.Sutton pointed to the fact that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new appointee for the directorship of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Joan Borucki, will only make $123,255 per year. Sutton said she was concerned that the managers of special districts around town will be making more than state department heads.”I have some concerns about how easy it is for us to give raises,” she said. “I’m just a little concerned about how much we are increasing salaries … every year, everyone gets a raise, and that doesn’t really happen in private industry around this town.”Sutton also voted no on the recent wage increase for managerial employees at the district, which also passed by a four-to-one margin.Sidebar:Salaries of Truckee-area special district managers:Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency $130,116Squaw Valley Public Service District $130,000North Tahoe PUD $130,000Truckee Donner PUD $127,308Truckee Sanitary District $125,400Tahoe City PUD $122,373


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