After 15 years at the helm, Clallam Public Utility District General Manager Doug Nass is retiring in January under a three-year retention agreement and salary schedule that will net him $343,036 by early next year.
Nass will earn $283,036 in salary and deferred compensation in 2021 and receive a $60,000 lump-sum payment in 2022 for fulfilling the retention pact, according to PUD documents.
Nass, whose base salary for 2021 is $237,036, submitted his resignation letter to the PUD board on Aug. 23 in an executive session under the open meetings exemption allowing closed meetings for discussion of the performance of a public employee.
“Thank you for a wonderful 15 years with a tremendous group of people,” Nass said in the letter.
“I have been working with two employees in preparation for this succession and would like an opportunity to discuss them with you.”
He said in a voice message Aug. 26 that he is looking forward to retirement.
The PUD employees he worked with “had customer service in mind continuously,” he said.
“I believe their leadership will continue to make the PUD a great organization.”
He recalled his 40 years in the utility business. It includes serving as engineering manager for the Salt River Project, a multipurpose water and electric utility in Arizona, and in Saudi Arabia overseeing construction of an industrial city for up to 200,000 people.
“I came up here for the beauty and really enjoyed getting out in the mountains and the lakes,” Nass said.
PUD board President Will Purser announced Nass’s departure date of Jan. 15 after an executive session at the end of last week’s regular meeting, when Purser said no action would be taken following the session.
“Doug Nass has given us his retirement letter, and his last day as general manager will be Jan. 15, 2022,” Purser said after the closed session and before adjourning the meeting.
“We’ve got some deliberations on what to do next, and we’ll do that in future executive sessions.”
Purser said Thursday the closed meeting will be scheduled for the board’s next meeting Sept. 13.
“We knew this was going to happen, we just didn’t know what specific day,” Purser added.
“He had indicated he would stay the year, hopefully to help us backfill that position.”
Commissioner Jim Waddell, on Feb. 24, 2020, had opposed increasing Nass’s base salary by 3 percent from $229,428 to $237,036 as part of a compensation package that includes a $500 monthly automobile allowance and 49 days of paid time off.
Waddell does not favor hiring a new general manager at Nass’s base salary, “not right out of the box,” he said, considering the PUD’s size and its lack of electricity generating capacity or ownership of a plant.
“The person’s experience, those kinds of things, all play into a salary range that we would, commissioners would, basically establish.”
Nass is responsible for overseeing PUD 2021 expenditure budget of $71.3 million divided into a $71.1 million electric system, a $7 million water system and a $160,000 sewer system.
The electric system has $18.5 million in reserves, the water system $1.5 million and the sewer system $55,000.
Water rates increased an average of 4.2 percent and wastewater rates climbed 5.9 percent beginning Feb. 1.
Residential electric rates went up 3.5 percent effective April 1.
The electric rates will go up 2.25 percent April 1, 2022, and 2.25 percent April 1, 2023, commissioners decided Aug. 9, a move Waddell opposed.
Commissioners lowered a proposed increase of 3.5 percent in 2022 and 2023 to 2.25 percent following a cost-of-service analysis.
The eventual rate increase “was good news, not bad news” considering what it could have been, Purser said, commenting on Nass’s retention pact in the face of PUD rate increases.
“We were always going to have a rate increase,” he said.
“It’s below the level of inflation. One of the risks is, inflation is taking off.”
When Nass’s retention pact was signed in December 2018 by then-board President Ted Simpson, then-Commissioner David Anderson and Purser, Nass was eligible to retire. The agreement was deemed “an incentive to Nass to remain employed with the district,” according to the pact.
It expires Dec. 31 and includes a lump sum, three-year-contract completion payment of $60,000 “on or as soon as practicable” after Jan. 1.
Under its terms, Nass was paid retention payments over the district’s regular pay periods of $18,000 in 2019, $20,000 in 2020 and $22,000 in 2021. His contract for 2021 includes deferred compensation of $2,000 a month.
“I can say relative to other PUDs, Doug has done a great job for us,” Purser said.
“He’s got a lot of milestones, a lot of accomplishments on the wall.”
Purser said they include adding an outage management system, getting a new administration center built in Carlsborg and supervising district personnel.
“Morale has been very high,” Purser added.