Fire chief gets 16 percent raise, now highest-paid in Reno-Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Fire chief gets 16 percent raise, now highest-paid in Reno-Tahoe

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Mike Brown was granted a 16 percent raise Wednesday, making him the highest-paid fire chief in the greater Reno-Tahoe region.

The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted 4-1 to up Brown's base salary to 177,048.64, meaning he'll make about $28,000 more annually.

"This fire district is one of the most respected, and we are continually called upon to pass along our expertise, and most of that stems down from the chief," director Dale Smith said. "I can fully support (a raise), when looking at what the other chief salaries are in the area."

"I agree with Dale and all of his comments," added director Paul Zahler. "I think our chief is the best guy around, and I think we need pay him accordingly."

The raise is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2014. Previously, Brown's base salary was $148,749.12, which he had made since November 2012.

When he first took the position as fire chief in October 2007, his base salary was $132,000.16, according to the district's finance reports.

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His pay was upped a year later to $138,600.18, and it stayed that way until March 2012, when he and other fire district staff took a 3.5 percent pay cut due to the Great Recession.

After the vote, Brown thanked the board for its action.

"I always say the success of a department and its supervisor is because of the people we work with," he added in an interview after the meeting. "Not who works for me, but who we work with, and that's every single employee here."

Director Gene Murrieta voted against the measure, saying he would have recommended a 7.5 percent increase to about $160,000.

"For the record, I think it's a bit excessive," Murrieta said.

Director Jeff Warner applauded Brown for his work the past few years, saying he's done an exceptional job considering the district has been without an assistant fire chief for more than three years.

With Wednesday's vote, the NLTFPD chief base salary of roughly $177,000 is the highest in the region. The next highest is that of Northstar Fire Protection District Chief Mark Shadowens, who made $165,582 in 2014.

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READ MORE: The average base salary of the top leaders of public agencies throughout the Tahoe/Truckee region in 2014 is three and a half times that of the average American worker, according to data analysis performed by the Sierra Sun.

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The lowest of 11 salaries surveyed for this story is that of Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi, who made $120,858.

Aside from base salary, Brown received bonuses of $18,000 in 2008 and $15,000 in 2013, according to the district. According to the website transparentnevada.com, which publishes salary information for Nevada public employees, Brown's entire benefit and compensation package for 2013 was $255,230.27.

Earlier in the meeting, directors voted to increase the fire chief's base salary range to $200,000, a 27.5 percent increase to the previous max of $145,000.

"I want to take the range up to allow us a lot of latitude to make adjustments, not only now, but into the future," said director Susan Herron, adding that it makes the position more competitive with the salaries of other regional chiefs.

Other directors agreed with Herron, and district counsel Gene Menchetti was quick to remind everyone that the vote was only for a range, and the cap can be lowered or raised by future boards.

The board also voted 5-0 to cancel the December meeting, meaning Wednesday's gathering was the final for Murrieta.

Murrieta, who first was elected in 2002, and was reelected in 2006 and 2010, chose not to run again in 2014, with his and Warner's seats up.

He will be replaced on the board by Incline resident Dennis Perry, who received the most votes in the Nov. 4 General Election. The incumbent Warner finished second.

BY THE NUMBERS

The raise approved Wednesday makes Mike Brown the highest-paid fire chief in the North Tahoe/Truckee region. Below is a breakdown of current base salaries for each position:

$177,048: North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District

$165,582: Northstar Fire Protection District

$152,000: City of Reno

$151,120: City of Sparks

$146,760: Squaw Valley Fire Protection District

$144,500: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

$140,616: Truckee Fire Protection District

$138,585: Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District

$137,415: Meeks Bay Fire Protection District (person retired in April)

$131,594: Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District

$120,858: Carson City

Figures are rounded to whole numbers. Salary information does not include benefits packages or other compensation. The information was compiled by Bonanza staff based on public records requests, and by stats provided by NLTFPD.