UPDATED AT 2:41 P.M. WITH COMMENTS FROM NEIDITZ:
Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz was confirmed unanimously Wednesday as the first executive director of South Sound 911.
The new agency’s Policy Board voted 8-0 to select Neiditz, pending successful contract negotiations.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, chairwoman of the Policy Board, praised Neiditz.
“The Policy Board is confident that Andrew Neiditz can meet the challenge of building a modern, unified emergency communication and response system to protect and serve our communities and partner agencies,” McCarthy said in a statement.
The Policy Board selected Neiditz because of his local experience, community knowledge and his early involvement with creating the enhanced 911 system, the statement said.
Neiditz, 59, who has been Lakewood’s city manager since March 2005, said he would assist the City Council in its efforts to hire its third city manager in its nearly 18-year history.
Neiditz said after the vote he’s excited about the new job, although it would be difficult to leave Lakewood and the city employees he worked with for nearly eight years.
Neiditz said he first become interested in the job after hearing comments that an individual with a background in managing cities would be a good fit for the job and realizing his skills were suited to the new position. A year ago, Neiditz finished second in a bid to become Tacoma’s city manager.
“This is a once-in-a-career opportunity to build something new,” he said.
His departure will add to the city’s leadership changes. Mayor Doug Richardson will leave that office Tuesday. Voters elected him to the Pierce County Council in November. Richardson starting work as a County Council member on Jan. 1.
South Sound 911 is the new agency working to build a seamless emergency communications system in Pierce County. Neiditz said his first order of business will be to build or strengthen relationships with cities and towns that the new agency serves and meet with its employees.
In November 2011, Pierce County voters approved raising the sales tax by a penny on every $10 purchase to help build a cohesive radio network and two dispatch centers. The tax increase took effect in April.
The upgraded radio system for emergency responders will comply with new federal standards for so-called narrow-banding and replace a patchwork of incompatible radio systems.
The Policy Board met Dec. 19 to discuss Neiditz’s confirmation but did not take a vote then.
The panel is made up of nine elected officials. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.
Neiditz was the unanimous top choice of a search committee that narrowed 32 applicants to three finalists. The other two finalists were Washington State Ferries Director David Moseley and Jack Harper II, city manager of Hillsboro, Texas.
The position of South Sound 911 director has an annual salary range of $175,000 to $205,000.
Neiditz earns $156,000 annually as city manager of Lakewood.
The Policy Board expressed hope that contract negotiations with Neiditz will be completed in time for consideration at its next meeting Jan. 23 at Lakewood City Hall. If the contract is approved then, the earliest Neiditz could leave Lakewood is the third week of February. Neiditz must give 30 days of notice under the terms of his employment contract with Lakewood. Neiditz said he doesn’t anticipate any problems finalizing the contract with South Sound 911.
Neiditz previously worked as city administrator of Sumner and has held two leadership positions for Pierce County. He was deputy county executive and later was director of public safety, where he oversaw six departments.