By Mark Waite
TONOPAH — Nye County Information Technology Director Mark Hatfield attempted to get a guarantee of protection under the Nye County Management Employee Association, but commissioners rejected his proposed employment agreement Tuesday.
Hatfield gave notice he was resigning at the end of the year but changed his mind with the suggested contract.
Former Nye County Emergency Services Director Brent Jones filed a demand letter claiming he was terminated May 2 after his protection ended under collective bargaining law.
The Nevada Legislature in 2011 passed Senate Bill 98, authored by State Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, which exempted supervisory employees with authority to make budget decisions, terminate employees and make decisions on collective bargaining from protection under employee organizations.
The county’s representative of the NCMEA, Bob Jones, last month charged commissioners were ignoring his union while allowing dues to be collected. County commissioners ratified a contract with the NCMEA June 29, which includes only a small number of supervisors and department heads, but the union never ratified the agreement.
Hatfield served notice a few months ago he wished to return to Ohio, where his wife still lives. But he indicated his wife could move to Pahrump and he’d keep working for the county, if commissioners approved the employment agreement requested by Commissioner Gary Hollis.
“Mark has done us a tremendous job and I think giving him a contract for five years is reasonable,” Hollis said.
He cast the sole vote in favor of the agreement.
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said he didn’t think approving contracts for at-will employees was a good idea.
Hatfield said there’s no term in his proposed contract.
“The purpose of my resignation is that I would like to live with my wife. She will either move here or I will move there. She was all ready to move here and there was a set of circumstances that caused us to change that decision,” Hatfield told commissioners.
The agreement addressed one of his major concerns with working for the county, he said.
Eastley seconded Schinhofen’s motion to deny the agreement.
“I don’t think that an employment agreement is a bad idea but I don’t understand. We’ve got a number of excellent management employees in the same position and I would’ve preferred to bring a blanket agreement forward for all of them as opposed to just voting on this for one individual,” she said.
The proposed agreement stated, “irrespective of the law preventing IT director from being a member of an employee organization the parties agreed to be bound by the provisions in Articles 10 and 11 in the agreement negotiated by and between the county and the NCMEA as pertain to the relationship, rights and obligations between the county and the employee.”
The proposal would keep his present salary level.
The agreement provides for benefits and entitlements, including payment for post-retirement medical insurance. He would maintain his present pay, which was increased to $52.89 per hour in October after an annual raise.
Hatfield was hired in August 2009. He holds a Masters in Business Administration in electronic commerce and was IT manager for the city of Stow, Ohio for six years before coming to Pahrump.
Soon after his hiring, Commissioner Joni Eastley accused former County Manager Rick Osborne of cronyism after he proposed hiring the firm of Oakbury Consulting for $100,000 to be chief contract negotiator. Oakbury Consulting was based in Aurora, Ohio, 30 miles from Tallmadge where Osborne was city administrator before coming to Nye County, while Stow, Hatfield’s hometown, was four miles away.
In October, Hatfield issued a scathing report blasting the inadequacies of a $6 million sheriff’s department radio system. County commissioners handed the supervision of the radio system over to the IT director last summer.
Milan Dimac, the former IT director, was recently rehired by Nye County as a network engineer and could replace Hatfield.