San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 29th, 2010
San Marcos council tabs Nuse as new city manager

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Round Rock City Manager Jim Nuse, chosen by the San Marcos city council as the next city manager in San Marcos. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

After a two-hour executive session Tuesday night, the San Marcos City Council named Jim Nuse as the lone candidate for the vacant city manager position just five weeks before an election that could sit a new council majority.

Nuse is the city manager for Round Rock, though he presented that city’s council with his resignation in June. Nuse’s resignation was to take effect in January.

The council picked Nuse over the two other finalists — Peoria, IL, City Manager Scott Moore and Kilgore City Manager Jeffrey Howell.

All three candidates met with citizens in a session on Sept. 22, then met again in executive session with the city council later that evening. The executive session included interviews with the candidates, after which the council made no decision. Councilmembers said they would use the time before Tuesday’s special session to mull over comment cards presented by residents during the public “meet and greet.”

Public speculation has given wings to a rumored letter in which Nuse is alleged to have withdrawn himself for consideration the morning after last week’s executive session. Kay Stroman, who is running the executive search for the city, would not comment on the alleged letter and felt “uncomfortable’ answering questions, before referred the query to the city Communication Director Melissa Millecam.

Millecam said Tuesday night that an open records request would have to be filed with the city government for any information regarding Nuse’s alleged letter, though she said she’s not confirming a letter exists.

Nuse said last week that his resignation from Round Rock was not retirement from employment, but a retirement from a city he’s worked for since 1983. He said he wanted to retire from Round Rock when the city was in good shape and hadn’t considered who his next employer would be, though he admitted he looked forward to the possibility in San Marcos.

Nuse has served as Round Rock’s city manger since January 2003. He also has worked for Round Rock in different capacities since 1983, serving first as an engineer and assistant director of public works, followed by service as public works director for 17 years, before being promoted to chief of operations/assistant city manager.

The San Marcos City Council fired Rick Menchaca as city manager on June 24 by a 4-3 vote. Menchaca’s annual salary with San Marcos was $170,000 plus benefits, while Nuse’s salary with Round Rock is $180,939.

Council directed Stroman Tuesday night to begin contract negotiations with Nuse. He’s likely to be appointed to the position as early as Oct. 5.

Nuse will take the city’s top job in the midst of an election cycle, an atmosphere of low morale at City Hall and mistrust of government by swaths of the constituency.

Residents have continuously pummeled councilmembers with criticism in open session, saying the council is rushing the city manager hire. Some residents have asked the council to wait until after the November election that will decide four of seven council seats.

The council voted, 5-2, to hire Stroman as the consultant to head the executive search with a 60-day timeline, with councilmembers Gaylord Bose and John Thomaides in opposition. Stroman previously had no experience with municipal executive searches.

Outgoing Mayor Susan Narvaiz has said that there was consensus on the council (at least four councilmembers) that the selection process should be substantially completed before the election, but she has not provided specific reasons for the decision.

Narvaiz has defended the council’s decision to name a city manager before the election by comparing the 2010 executive search to the search that named Menchaca in 2008.

San Marcos Assistant City Manager Collete Jamison said last week that the 2008 and 2010 executive searches have consisted of roughly the same amount of time from the advertisement of a candidate profile to the selection of a lone candidate. Jamison said it took about a month to finalize a candidate profile in 2008. In 2010, the city made a few adjustments to the 2008 profile, streamlining the process.

Stroman said last week that the 2008 search may have been about a week or two longer than this year’s from when the candidate profile was advertised to the naming of the lone finalist.

In early September, Stroman presented the council with the top five candidates for the job after she took 67 applications from interested parties in the position. The council interviewed the five candidates on Sept. 14-15, before deciding on the top three finalists.

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23 thoughts on “San Marcos council tabs Nuse as new city manager

  1. Pingback: Moore doesn’t get San Marcos job « The Peoria Chronicle

  2. I want to welcome Jim Nuse and thank the Mayor and Council for getting the job done. This could have turned in to a long, ugly debacle – possibly with the same result. I am encouraged by Mr. Nuse’s experience and look forward to watching him work.

  3. Not my choice…. Not my choice at all… This was the least likable candidate out of the three. Weird it seemed as if everyone kinda liked and migrated over to Scott Moore… Too bad…
    Sorry Mayor and council… he just seemed to be a “yes man”

  4. @Elena: Isn’t getting a “yes man” installed as City Manager exactly what the Mayor and Council were trying to achieve by pushing this hire through before the election?

  5. If the point of doing the appointment was to increase trust among the town’s population, it sounds as though they screwed it up quite royally. I think I would have waited until after those elections, but politicians often seem to be more interested in the power they can exert than doing things the way the people want them done. I hope that Mr. Nuse will be a capable and efficient City Manager, but you would think that the council would have delayed picking one if their aim was to actually do their jobs of adequately representing the people who elected them.

  6. Steve, to be honest, when it comes to city managers these days you tend to get what you pay for. Remember, the city manager is an unstable position and is basically a CEO of a 500+ employee business with an annual budget of $145M. I’m sure Nuse is a great guy, but the circumstances surrounding his appointment will require him to possess adept skill in rebuilding trust with the community and with the staff.

  7. I am reposting this from yesterday where it kind of got lost. I work for applause people so you need to get with the program.

    On Sept. 13, 2010 I posted, before the finalist were announced or the first person was interviewed.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    shh! don’t tell anyone. This is just between you and me, OK.

    The council is going to interview a couple of people on Tuesday and then Wed. morning they are going to interview a few more. They are coming back (in executive session of course) in the afternoon where Susan is going to tell the council who the top candidate is going to be. The Council will get to pick the second choice so we can have a show and tell with a public reception for the two candidate. I kind of feel sorry for the second choice because he/she is going to think they actually have a shot at the job and will have to go through the whole public ordeal. The first candidate will be announcement in the next meeting as the new City Manager. It is probably going to be the ex city manager of Round Rock. He is Susan’s guy. His name is Jim Nuse and he is “retiring” from the City of Round Rock. Of interest, the marketing logo for the City of Round Rock is Purpose. Passion. Prosperity. If that isn’t pretty. near. perfect. I don’t know what is.

    Remember,don’t tell anybody, it’s our little secret.

    ———————————————————-

    It was all performace art from the hiring of the search consultant to the delayed announcment so that it would look like a lot of consideration was going into the selection.

  8. We’re a little bitty town compared to Round Rock, but I bet we’ll end up paying about the same per year for a City Manager as Round Rock does. I understand and agree that in the business world, somebody responsible for 500+ people and an annual budget of $140M+ would normally expect to be solidly over $150K per year plus bonus plus benefits plus long-term compensation, but I thought government jobs traded job security (more than the corporate world) for less pay (compared to the corporate world). Oh, that’s true, the City Manager position in San Marcos is mighty political, and who knows how long somebody will last.

    Here in San Marcos, a $50-75K/yr job is a really good job, and six figure jobs are not exactly plentiful. If you want to make the bucks, go to Austin or San Antonio. I seem to be one of the Lone Ranger gang, or Chicken Little or something, because I think we have a real financial predicament here in San Marcos. Our long-term debt and certificates of obligation level has skyrocketed in the past 5 years, more than doubled from the 2005 level, and this in the midst of the Great Recession. Where oh where is fiscal responsibility and accountability?

    I do feel bad for the other two City Manager candidates. I don’t think they stood a chance against Nuse, it feels like the cards were stacked in Jim’s favor, but now those other two men get to face hometown constituents unhappy that they were looking for another job. It would have been better for us to be honest with them much sooner, and simply thanked them for applying for the position.

    As stated above, “the circumstances surrounding his appointment will require him to possess adept skill in rebuilding trust with the community and with the staff.” Because, as further stated above, it really does seem like, “it was all performance art from the hiring of the search consultant to the delayed announcement so that it would look like a lot of consideration was going into the selection.”

    I hope we negotiate a proper contract from all perspectives. And, I wish our new City Manager the best of success, for that is in all our best interest. I just with our current Mayor and City Council members could have handled this with greater transparency and open process.

  9. My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.

    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972)

  10. It’s interesting that “transparency” is the word being used lately to express concern about local representation. I think that this mayor & council are quite transparent, predictable even, as Charles points out. They consistently “dance with them what brung ’em”.
    Is the diverse population of San Marcos represented on the council? I have a theory that if we plotted the addresses of the council members from the last few years on map, we would find there are many areas of this great city that are grossly underrepresented. And as long as the same few thousand people can vote in the whole council & mayor, this is unlikely to change. We voted for single member districts for the council years ago but it still has not been implimented. I think it would help toward better representation & increase voter participation.

  11. shh! don’t tell anyone. This is just between you and me, OK.

    Contract negotiations will fall apart and Susan will offer to do the job for half price. Back slapping, high-fiving and hurrahs will ensue.

    Remember,don’t tell anybody, it’s our little secret.

  12. Steve

    Were not a littly bitty town compared to Round Rock. If u want to live small, move to Martindale

  13. To be fair, there is a lot to like about what Round Rock has to say about itself. I don’t know the city all that well, since you have to go through Austin to get there, and that just isn’t worth the effort.

    Still, if we could some of this about San Marcos, that would be a significant step forward (from their website, so take with a grain of salt) (emphasis added):

    Major employers include **Dell, TECO-Westinghouse, Dresser and Hospira**. Its combined property tax and utility rates are the lowest in the region. It has an **award-winning park system, school district** and is the No. 4 Safest City with a population of at least 100,000 population in the United States.

    The city has maintained high quality of life while becoming a major center for economic growth in Central Texas, with industry clusters in Clean Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences and Computer/Software Development. The City of Round Rock is known for its **award-winning master plan, park system and school district** as well as for having some of the lowest crime, property tax and utility rates in Texas.

    As the winner of the prestigious Comprehensive Planning Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association and a 3CMA Savvy Award for Community Visioning, **the City prides itself on its long-term planning**.

    Perhaps he’ll encourage us to use our master plans for something more than toilet paper.

  14. “Perhaps he’ll encourage us to use our master plans for something more than toilet paper.”
    We can only hope, Ted.

  15. Maybe “dreamteam/obama” can utilize some of the remedial reading and writing classes that are currently offered at ACC here in San Marcos. I’ll write the check.

  16. I got plenty money. Don’t worry I’ll be spending it at Paso Robles. Graduate of Swt thank you. After Tuesday u wont hear from me again. It’s been fun though.

  17. Round Rock has a smaller annual budget yet over twice as many citizens. Here are the numbers from their recently adopted FY2011 annual budget:

    General Fund $81.5 million
    Debt Service Fund $12.8 million
    Water/Wastewater Utility Fund $38.8 million
    Drainage Utility Fund $1.6 million
    Total $134.7 million

    How can this be? It seems they have figured out how to spend 50% less per citizen per year to provide award winning services. Yet we still have bumpy streets around town that haven’t been properly fixed for years. Yet, we (the City of San Marcos) have more than doubled our long-term debt plus certificates of obligation during the past five years.

    I hope our new Mayor and the rest of the City Council will take this seriously and begin to provide more enlightened leadership.

  18. It would be interesting to know the property/sales tax revenue for RR. I imagine it’s much much higher. The chief appraiser is known as one of the most aggressive in the state.

  19. I think Dreamteam/Obama is posting from a phone, which for some reason makes people think that they don’t need to know grammar or spelling… Cell phones have full keyboards now. There is no reason for “text speak”, unless you are lazy or want to sound dumb.

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