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After tumultuous months, North Las Vegas prepares to promote ally of mayor to top administrative post

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Local Government

The North Las Vegas City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on appointing a top ally of Mayor John Lee to the city’s top administrative position at a salary of $220,000, just three months after he was fired — and quickly rehired — from a previous position with the city.

Assistant City Manager Ryan Juden, right, listens as former City Manager Qiong Liu speak during a North Las Vegas City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent

City Council members are set to vote on approving Ryann Juden, who has been serving as acting city manager since January, as the full-time manager during tonight’s meeting.

The salary, the same as former City Manager Qiong Liu, would run for at least two years. If approved, it will take effect immediately.

The likely promotion marks a stark departure from January, where Juden was fired by Liu in a fiery memorandum, saying hiring him had been her “biggest mistake” as city manager and that she had “tolerated his lack of productivity or interest in doing the job in order to avoid organizational disruptions due to his personal and political association.”

The firing was short-lived — Juden was back to work the next day after Liu rescinded her decision and went on an immediate leave of absence amid negotiations for her departure from the city. Juden was appointed acting city manager on January 18, and the council moved to terminate Liu’s contract for cause amid allegations that she attempted to process an unauthorized pay increase for herself without informing council members.

Liu and the city agreed to enter into arbitration proceedings in March over whether or not she should be terminated with or without cause — a distinction that could be worth up to $300,000 in compensation.

If approved, Juden and Liu’s employment contracts will contain many similarities, including an automatic contract renewal at the end of the initial period, a $500 car allowance, payment for any professional development dues, civic club membership and any professional development dues or travel expenses related to work. Both contracts prohibit the council from reducing any benefits or financial compensation of the city manager, though Juden’s proposed contract expressly requires a vote of three of the council members to approve a raise and prohibits any salary decreases without his written permission.

The proposed contract also gives Juden eight days of administrative leave per year (Liu’s contract had five days), and also ties his salary to any cost of living adjustments given to other department heads of the city. It also states that although he will have the same normally defined work week as other administrative employees, he may work outside of normal operating hours.

“Employee will be allowed to establish an appropriate work schedule that takes into consideration the City Manager’s work required outside normal business hours, but will be available during normal business hours for other administrative employees when possible,” it states.

Juden’s proposed contract would also give him six months worth of severance pay and benefits if he is terminated without cause by the council, while Liu’s contract gave her a full 12 months of severance pay.

Juden has worked for the city since 2013, originally coming on as Lee’s chief of staff and later moving to a newly created assistant city manager position in 2015. According to the North Las Vegas charter, the city manager shall be appointed on the basis of “administrative qualifications,” and either live in the city itself or retain permission from the City Council if they live outside of the jurisdiction.


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