CARSON CITY — The board of the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System on Wednesday voted to pay new Executive Officer Tina Leiss $148,000 a year in the position.
Mark Vincent, chairman of the board, recommended paying Leiss the maximum salary available, which he said still is not competitive with other officials overseeing public pension plans around the country. Vincent is chief financial officer for the city of Las Vegas.
Leiss, formerly the operations officer for the public retirement plan that covers nearly all state and local government employees, was named to the top job following the retirement of Dana Bilyeu. Leiss started in her new position on Sept. 9.
Vincent said if Leiss had not taken the position, the retirement system would have had to do a national search, and the salary for the Nevada position is not competitive. A recent salary review conducted by the board shows that the average salary is about $175,000 for executive officers of public pension plans. An effort to change the Nevada salary schedule in the 2013 legislative session was not successful, he said.
“If we didn’t have Tina to replace Dana, and we had to do a national recruitment, there is no way we would get anybody that would be of the caliber that we need here, and if we did, they would use us as a stepping stone to go back to some other state,” Vincent said. “So we’re at a competitive disadvantage with our salary structure here and that’s the issue.”
Leiss’ actual salary will be somewhat less due to the mandated unpaid furlough days for state employees.
The PERS plan has been well run, “and $30 billion dollars is a lot of money to be responsible for,” Vincent said.
Prior to her service with PERS beginning in 2004, Leiss was a senior deputy attorney general, serving as the retirement system’s legal counsel.
The PERS pension fund covers about 100,000 active state and local government workers and more than 40,000 retirees.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801