TRPA delays chief’s raise |

TRPA delays chief’s raise

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Singlaub will have to wait at least another month to receive a cost-of-living raise.

He did, however, receive an earful of critiques, criticisms and advice from the 10 members of the Tahoe agency’s 15-member board that stuck around to vote on the executive director’s raise at a Wednesday meeting in Kings Beach.

With five of the 15 board members absent for the vote, the board failed to reach the majority necessary to grant Singlaub his requested 2.9-percent cost-of-living raise.

Six of the 10 board members present at the meeting voted to approve the pay hike for the manager hired to direct the agency in January, 2004.

The matter will be voted on again at a December agency meeting.

Overseeing the operations of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency often involves more than carrying out the task at hand, governing board members told the executive director during his annual performance review Wednesday.

It’s a job that requires the ability to maintain composure under pressure ” especially when the agency is bearing the brunt of heavy criticism from the devastation wreaked by the Angora Fire in June and a decline in lake clarity.

“John is going to experience most of those complaints, because he is the one who personifies the TRPA,” said board member Shelly Aldean. “It requires tremendous composure to be the target of so much, in some cases, acrimony and criticism. And it’s only human to sometimes lose your composure.”

Singlaub was criticized for his defensiveness at a public meeting in South Lake Tahoe, where angry residents blamed the agency’s bureaucratic red tape for hindering fuel-reduction efforts.

Singlaub’s strength can be seen in the progress the agency has made towards on-the-ground issues, such as the regional plan update, the shorezone plan, aquatic invasive species eradication efforts and a basinwide forest fuels management plan, according to agency documents.

But improvements need to be seen in the director’s management, leadership and communication skills, board members said.

“You have 15 bosses ” that’s right there a bad job, right off the bat,” said board member Mike Weber. “But having said that, there are some issues I’ve had problems with. I just think you need to be more open and transparent to communicate with this board.”

Board Member Coe Swobe said that Singlaub has not been pro-active on implementing the board’s priorities, specifically wildfire prevention.

Singlaub’s management skills were also criticized in a survey sent out to board members, agency employees, members of the public and former employees. This was the first year a performance review survey was conducted on the agency’s executive director.

The survey identified Singlaub’s perseverance, strategic thinking and ability to “deal with change” as his strong points. But areas that need improvement include delegation and planning, interpersonal skills, motivating individuals and teams, making “complex” decisions, as well as patience and composure, according to a summary of the survey’s results.

Singlaub said in a phone interview Thursday that the evaluation survey is a valuable tool if executed properly. But the survey was skewed, he said, because it interviewed former employees, who Singlaub may have fired, and did not involve the director in choosing participants from outside the agency, as typically happens in evaluation surveys.

“I don’t believe [the survey] was used properly,” Singlaub said. “[But that] doesn’t mean that the information that came out of it isn’t helpful to me.”

A cost-of-living raise would be retroactive to July 1 and increase Singlaub’s salary to $132,958.

Wednesday’s vote, however, left Singlaub discouraged.

“I was disappointed that only 10 board members remained at the meeting,” he said.

The board’s less-than-enthusiastic response to the evaluation survey further disappointed the director, he said. Only half of the board members who received the survey responded.

The governing board directed Singlaub to implement a development plan over the next 90 days that will pro-actively improve his leadership abilities. Singlaub will undergo the process with a consultant and a sub-committee from the board.

Because of a recent Nevada statute reviews for directors of public agencies, including Singlaub, are conducted in public.

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