New chief takes the helm at sanitary district |

New chief takes the helm at sanitary district

Tom Selfridge, the new general manager of the Truckee Sanitary District, sits in his sunny office on Wednesday, an unseasonably warm winter day, and discusses his future in Truckee.

He talks about trying to find a house in town, the pros and cons of Truckee’s different neighborhoods, and making the transition from the Bay Area to the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra.

“Ask me in a year, and I’ll tell you what I think about the snow,” he jokes.

Snowy winters won’t be the only life change for Selfridge.

On the professional side, he took a pay cut from his previous job as general manager of the Novato Sanitary District to come to TSD and make $125,400 each year. In his five years at the helm of Novato Sanitary, Selfridge managed a staff of 26 at a district that served a population of 60,000 with water collection, treatment and disposal. At TSD he’ll oversee a staff of 34 in sewer maintenance for a much smaller population.

Adding to the transition, he went through what he called “some family changes” before his move to Truckee. Selfridge, who is now unmarried, made the move to Truckee by himself. He has three children. One is a junior at UC Santa Cruz and two are in school in Novato.

“It has been a whirlwind of personal and professional changes,” he said.

Selfridge, 54, has been at his new post for just one week, so he didn’t want to discuss procedural goals and challenges he might face as general manager just yet. At Novato Sanitary Selfridge had worked at the district for seven years prior to his promotion to general manager, so he knew how the head boss operated.

The move to TSD was more abrupt. Former sanitary district chief O.R. “Oz” Butterfield, who stood at the helm of the district for 15 years, left TSD at the end of February, and Selfridge’s first day was March 1.

“The board hasn’t created any particular agenda for me, yet. In my opinion, it’s not broken, so why fix it?” he said, referring to the procedures Butterfield had in place.

So far, Selfridge has been impressed with the facilities at TSD, saying they are the best he has encountered in his 23 years working for special districts.

In the coming weeks, he plans to sit down with the staff and get a feel for how the district operates.

“I’m very much in listening mode right now,” he said.

Selfridge hasn’t quite moved into his office, yet; there are still boxes stacked in the corner. But, things are moving into place.

He has TSD business cards and a placard with his name behind his desk. His blinds are open, revealing the snowy mountain backdrop.

“This is a unique opportunity,” he said, motioning out his window, “a chance to live and work in one of America’s great playgrounds.”

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