With a pair of unanimous votes Tuesday night, Henderson council members launched a new era in the city's government by first approving a $225,000 salary agreement for new City Manager Jacob Snow and then revamping its strategy for the Space and Science Center.
Snow, who spent 13 years at the helm of the Regional Transportation Commission, will start April 2. He replaces City Manager Mark Calhoun, who is retiring in May.
The council voted 5-0 to hire Snow for $225,000 a year, the same salary Calhoun made but $55,000 less than he earned through his employment package at the transit agency.
Why take a pay cut?
"I've been looking at the city of Henderson for a long time," he said after the meeting. "This is where I live. It's a shorter commute, and I'm really excited to go to work for the mayor and the council."
Human Resources Director Fred Horvath said Snow's salary was set by looking at similar positions in Nevada. "This number fits very neatly in that range."
Horvath said that Snow will not receive a car allowance, in keeping with the city's downsizing through 67 employees expected to take advantage of the city's voluntary severance program.
Snow said he envisions a new direction for the city that fits with the economic recession. "Obviously what we need to focus on now is we need to deal with the economic reality. That means the government needs to tighten its belt."
Despite belt-tightening, there is still hope for the city "to do great things in the future," Snow said. "We're going to need to focus on how we're going to continue to do great things that don't cost a whole lot of money."
He cited prospects for Union Village and the continued build-out of its master-planned community in addition to the possibility of a Henderson stadium complex. "Those things are really exciting. We have a hospital expansion that is under way, (and) I'd like to see the Henderson space and science museum be completed," he said.
Snow said his staff will examine a number of locations for the Space and Science Center.
"One of the areas that's been discussed is on Water Street in conjunction with a rebuild of the Henderson Convention Center, possibly tying those two together. I think that makes a lot of sense."
When the idea for the center was floated nearly 20 years ago as a partnership with the nonprofit organization, Henderson Space & Science Center in Nevada, the plan was to seek private donations and federal grants to pay for about two-thirds of the $63 million project, with the city of Henderson chipping in $21 million.
But as the economy tanked , the council wanted a tighter grip on the $21 million in land funds earmarked for the center.
As a result, the council voted 5-0 to pass a resolution Tuesday night to start the process of removing the designation of funds for the center and separate from its partnership with the nonprofit group.
"The right thing to do is pass this resolution to free up those funds," Mayor Andy Hafen said .
Councilwoman Debra March said, "It makes a lot of sense to work toward a separation. I think it needs to morph into a new relationship."
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.