RTC chief Snow voted new Henderson city manager

Henderson City Council members voted Tuesday to appoint Regional Transportation Commission general manager Jacob Snow as their new city manager and directed staff to draw up a contract.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of Snow, who is expected to depart the transit agency after 13 years at the helm. Snow will replace Henderson City Manager Mark Calhoun, who will retire in May.

Calhoun, who was appointed to the top position in May 2009, was paid $225,000 a year.

"In Mr. Calhoun's three years, I can't think we've been in a more difficult situation," Mayor Andy Hafen said. "To make the strides we've made would not have been possible without Mark's leadership at the helm."

The Henderson city manager oversees a $224 million general fund budget. Snow handled a $500 million budget at the Regional Transportation Commission.

Snow, who has received national accolades for his leadership and record of innovation, said he will accept the appointment.

"I very much appreciate the vote of confidence, and I look forward to being the type of person whose performance the council will be proud of and the staff will enjoy working with," said Snow, who was not present at the meeting.

Snow said he realizes that he is stepping into a top municipal government position during tough economic times. That is hardly different than the challenges he faced at the transit agency.

"It's pretty easy to manage when times are good and there are plenty of resources," Snow said. "It's difficult to manage when times are tough and money is tight"

Snow, who probably will move to Water Street in April, has been embroiled in a controversy over the nation's largest public transit contract.

The board consistently split the vote with half of the commission supporting Snow's recommendation to hire First Transit to operate the fixed-route bus contract for $600 million over seven years. The other half opted for incumbent operator Veolia Transportation, whose bid was $50 million more than First Transit.

Regional Transportation Commission staff members and others close to the bus contract issue said Snow was growing increasingly frustrated by the board's stalemate.

Fred Horvath, the city's director of human resources, said Snow was "head and shoulders" above other candidates for the job.

"Mr. Snow is uniquely qualified to continue the work Mark (Calhoun) has done the last three years," Horvath said. "The city of Henderson's gain will be the RTC's loss."

Henderson City Councilman John Marz said he initially was hesitant about supporting Snow because he was unfamiliar with him.

After meeting with Snow and talking to Henderson residents, Snow became his first choice.

"I spent time with Jacob and I asked him a lot of questions, and I have to say I was very impressed with the answers," Marz said.

Marz, who said a search for a city manager would be "a waste of money and a waste of our time," lauded Snow for his ability to develop strong relationships in Carson City, an attribute that can help Henderson.

Councilwoman Debra March, who serves on the Transportation Commission, noted that the bus contract has been a "contentious issue" and that Snow conducted himself professionally throughout the months-long ordeal.

"He consistently received the highest feedback for leadership," March said of Snow's job evaluations.

When asked when the transition will take place, Snow said: "I don't expect that I will be at the RTC too much longer."

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904.