North Tahoe district hires new general manager
Six months and 55 applications later, and the North Tahoe Public Utility District’s board of directors finally found the perfect candidate to lead the lakeside sewer and water utility.
“I think we’ve all been looking forward to this day from the time [former General Manager] Steve Rogers left the district,” said board President Lane Lewis.
The board announced Thursday that they hired Jon “Curtis” Aaron, an outdoors enthusiast and former public works director for the City of Fontana, for his experience in seeing projects through to completion, cost-effectively and within budget.
“We’re so excited to have him,” Lewis said. “He stood out as such a good fit for this district, [with his] personality and professional [experience].”
After three weeks of interviews, Aaron is back in Southern California packing his things with his wife and two dogs to prepare for their move to Kings Beach. The district sent him on his way with boxes of files and information to study so he can dive right into the job starting April 7.
“I’m energetic and excited about [the new job],” Aaron said. “I’ve already got several box-loads of information that I’m reading over and taking a look at … It’s something I thrive on. I thrive on the challenge of a new environment.”
With a looming list of capital improvement projects throughout the district waiting to be addressed, and a recent hike in utility rates, the district’s board was determined to find someone with a strong background in project implementation.
“We raised the rates, and now our obligation and responsibility to the community is to spend the money wisely,” said board Director John Bergmann, who chaired the recruitment committee. “And this fellow seems like he is the one who is going to be able to do it with us.”
As the former public works director for a growing city that currently sits at a population around 180,000, Aaron said he directed the second largest department in Fontana, next to the city’s police department, for 10 years. Before that, he was the city’s utility and streets manager.
Building new trunk sewers, replacing lift stations, installing gravity sewers and transferring an entire housing development from a septic system to a sewer utility are just a few of the many projects Aaron said he managed. The city spent an average of $6 million annually on capital improvement projects, Aaron said, noting that the projects were always on schedule and met projected budgets.
“[Aaron] is very familiar with project management,” Bergmann said, noting the impressive letters of recommendation that came in with Aaron’s resume. “And working with contractors, engineers.”
To top it off, Aaron also managed the city’s 39 parks and 1,300 acres of open space.
“I’m hoping to bring some of the knowledge in work efforts that I’ve had success with in Fontana to North Tahoe,” Aaron said.
A lifelong Californian, Aaron grew up and spent most of his life in the Southern California city. He sought out a new job because he said he needed a fresh challenge, and the position in Tahoe was his first choice.
“I saw an opportunity with the North Tahoe Public Utility District to come up there and work … in one of the most beautiful environments in the world,” he said.
The chance to provide great water and sewer service, as well as infrastructure repair, while taking into consideration the surrounding environment, was what sealed the deal for Aaron.
“It’s a challenge up there because you’re living on a tight rim, for the most part, around the lake,” he said.
Providing adequate service that’s cost-effective but still protects the environment is “a nice balancing act that you have to do,” Aaron said, noting that an interest in conserving the environment and water quality sparked his career in public works.