First-and-only town manager retiring
August 16, 2004
Steve Wright, Truckee’s first-and-only permanent town manager and an integral figure in building the Town of Truckee, will retire this year.Since the town’s incorporation in 1993, Wright’s job has been to act as Truckee’s CEO, managing a $16 million budget and balancing the demands on town government while “paying attention to the pocketbook.” He will end his 36-year career in city management but continue to live in Truckee working part time as a government consultant around the state. Eleven years ago Wright, 59, moved to Truckee from the town of Big Bear Lake, and began the demanding process of building a municipal government from scratch. Working with the newly-formed town council, he oversaw Truckee’s development from an unincorporated community to a government complete with law enforcement, community development and public works departments that employ more than 100 people. His experience in managing the cities of Taft, Lynwood and Big Bear Lake, which in terms of tourism and snow removal was very similar to Truckee, was invaluable to the early town.”The thing that stuck in my mind about Steve is experience,” said Tony Lashbrook, Truckee’s community development director, the town’s last remaining original department head. “There is nothing that he has not faced before.”Lashbrook described Wright’s demeanor as “even and unflappable.” This steadiness has enabled the town to work consistently toward its established goals.
“We spend our time on identifying priorities and getting things done rather than changing direction every two years,” said Lashbrook.During Wright’s watch, Truckee has evolved from a community focused on internal issues of land use and road conditions, to a town looking outside of its boundaries to solve regional problems.”Truckee has become a political force in this region that now has to be reckoned with,” said Wright. “And part of this is because we have done things the right way.”Doing things the right way started back in 1993, as Wright began hiring permanent employees to staff the brand new town government.”He knew how to pick an excellent staff,” said Kathleen Eagan, Truckee’s first mayor. “He was extraordinary”
But there were dozens of other things that needed to be done, like working with the town council to establish fundamental policies and organizational structure.”It was a challenge,” said Wright, who had been told by other city managers that starting a town is “something that you ought to do once.” The challenge of building a town was the professional reason Wright needed to take the town manager position. But a personal reason also drew Wright and his family to the Tahoe area. Years ago on the tarmac of the Truckee Tahoe Airport, Wright met his future wife Diane, an Incline Village resident, on a trip to the area. After living in Taft, near Bakersfield, and then Big Bear Lake, Diane was ready to get back home.Wright said he is proud to have been a part of creating “a stable organization of good people” and knows that he leaves the town in strong fiscal shape.”I think that Truckee’s done extremely well for itself in the 10, 12 years it’s been in existence,” said Wright.
Wright said that the new town manager will have the challenge of meeting the demand for greater services while keeping Truckee fiscally healthy. But the new hire will also have great opportunities, like working on the Railyard Site development east of downtown, the Truckee River corridor revitalization, and historic preservation.”There are great opportunities for the next town manager,” said Wright. “Truckee will look very different 10 years from now.”But it is the groundwork that Wright set as manager that has allowed many of these opportunities to be feasible, said Lashbrook.”What he has really done is set this community up to succeed for the next 20 years,” he said.The new town council, which will be elected in November, will begin the process of hiring a new town manager. Wright, whose retirement officially begins in the middle of November, said he will stay on until a replacement is selected and trained.