Boulder City’s new city manager, Taylour Tedder, is stepping into the job amid broader, challenging turnover for the city’s leadership.
The city in June offered settlements to the former city manager and city attorney totaling $560,000 after the duo claimed the city council violated open meetings law when considering their firings. But the offers were not accepted and expired. It also fired its city clerk
In all three cases, the council alleged unprofessionalism, incompetence and adversarial attitudes.
Now Tedder, the former assistant city manager in Kansas City suburb Leavenworth, Kan., is confident things are starting to stabilize. He’s been on the job since Aug. 9, and has quickly learned he’s in good company.
“The staff from the outside looking in appears to be very professional and knowledgeable and after my first week, I have to say it was even immensely more so,” he said.
Tedder sat down with the Las Vegas Sun to give a glimpse on his impressions and priorities as he takes the reins in Boulder City. Answers have been edited lightly for clarity and length.
How does Boulder City compare with Leavenworth?
Leavenworth’s the first city in Kansas incorporated, in 1854, so there’s a lot of historic preservation going on. That’s one of the council’s priorities here, making sure all of the historical significance of the downtown and other buildings throughout town are highlighted and able to be preserved. That was one of the really interesting things I found with both Leavenworth and Boulder City, is the rich history that there is. Here, there’s the history of why it was built — for the dam workers — and it’s just so neat to be able to look back at photographs and see the same building standing there today.
What are going to be some of the key differences?
Some of the key differences are going to be water resources. Obviously in the whole Southern Nevada region, water is an issue, and we have a reminder of it just right around the corner here from city hall. The city’s looking at ways to not only conserve water and reuse our wastewater in a sustainable way. That’s definitely a key difference, but it’s something I’m excited to work on because such a meaningful, impactful piece of living in this area is making sure there’s resources for decades to come.
Another difference is a lot of communities place a high emphasis on generating more property tax. Typically that’s achieved through growth, but the general thought from most Boulder City residents is that they like that Boulder City is the size that it is — about 16,000 residents — and they would like to keep it that way. It’s part of the appeal of the community.
It’s almost kind of like a boutique community because it has all these arts and shops, and it’s guaranteed to most likely always stay the size it is, since we have a controlled growth ordinance — 120 homes a year can be built, and that’s only 30 per developer.
Boulder City is the gateway to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. How will you guide the city through the drought both as a community that’s impacted and as the gateway to those resources?
It comes down to looking at conservation in ways that we can really show that we’re in this together with the rest of the region. Lake Mead’s not just Boulder City’s lake, it affects a lot of different states and people.
One of the major projects that I’ll be working on is looking to upgrade our wastewater treatment plant to treat the water at a higher level so it can be used for other applications.
Boulder City’s one of the only cities in Nevada that receives power from the dam, so it’s one of our top priorities to ensure that’s still there.
With all of the recreational activities, it’s really a big tourist attraction. A lot of what I loved about my previous job is helping small businesses. I’m a certified economic developer through the International Economic Development Council, and that might scare a few people who prefer Boulder City to be small — they might think I want to bring in large manufacturers, but that’s not the case. I want the city to retain its look and feel and be the community it wants to be. My favorite part of economic development is small-business development. Retaining and expanding the businesses we have is 10 times cheaper to help businesses create new jobs than to attract new businesses.
Other than water, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the city and how will you tackle those?
Hiring and retaining excellent employees is probably another top priority. It’s definitely an issue that every employer in the country has. Just one example: Our utilities director just took a job with a private consulting firm.
We’re underway in a compensation classification study with a consultant. Hopefully, we’ll have some recommendations on that in the next couple of months so we’ll be able to make sure that pay ranges and benefits are up to the level that we need to hire and keep the employees.
There’s been internal strife in City Hall that came before you, and City Hall has had some turnover at the top. How do you plan to stabilize things?
A clear direction for the staff goes a long way, and providing support, making sure everyone has what they need to do their job the best that they can, I think that goes a long way. There’s going to be quite a bit of general team-building. … What they have needed is someone to come in and give clear leadership. The department heads are truly subject-matter experts in their fields. I’ve been impressed by every person that I’ve worked with so far.
Part of the key to success in public administration is 1) listening to the residents and always having an open door to them, and 2) I view my job as working with the council to help them find the best way to implement what they want to do. At the end of the day, it’s their decision, because they were elected to do what’s best for the city.