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.
A board of police and fire chiefs unanimously recommended Neiditz on Dec. 14 from three finalists.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, chairwoman of the policy board, praised Neiditz. In a statement she said the board is confident Neiditz “can meet the challenge of building a modern, unified emergency communication and response system to protect and serve our communities and partner agencies.”
The board selected Neiditz because of his local experience, community knowledge and early involvement 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 what will be only Lakewood’s third city manager in its nearly 17-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 911 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. “This is a once-in-a-career opportunity to build something new,” he said.
A year ago, Neiditz finished second in a bid to become Tacoma’s city manager.
His departure will add to Lakewood’s leadership changes. Mayor Doug Richardson will leave that office Tuesday. Voters elected him to the Pierce County Council in November.
Councilman Don Anderson expects the City Council to discuss finding Neiditz’s replacement Monday during the same meeting they’ll discuss the next steps to filling Richardson’s seat. The deadline to apply for appointment to complete Richardson’s term is 5 p.m. today.
Anderson said Neiditz raised Lakewood’s profile in working with area public agencies and offered a “steady hand in troubled economic times.”
“We have weathered the recession a lot better than most with a relatively low revenue level, and that is no small part due to his stewardship,” Anderson said.
South Sound 911 is the new agency working to build a seamless emergency communications system in Pierce County. Neiditz said his first priority will be to build or strengthen relationships with cities and towns and meet with agency 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.
Neiditz was the unanimous top choice of a search committee that narrowed 32 applicants to three finalists.
The position of South Sound 911 director has an annual salary range of $175,000 to $205,000.
The Policy Board expressed hope that contract negotiations with Neiditz will be completed in time for its next meeting Jan. 23 at Lakewood City Hall. The earliest Neiditz could leave Lakewood is late February; he must give 30 days’ notice under his contract.
Neiditz previously worked as city administrator of Sumner and has held two leadership positions for Pierce County. He was deputy county executive and later director of public safety, where he oversaw six departments.