Vol. 15 Issue No. 3 | January 21 – 27, 2009

Gary Neiss to replace retiring Jon Pearson

By Curtis Riggs | January 21, 2009

The benefits of staying in-house

CAREFREE – The town council voted unanimously to stay in-house with the appointment of Planning Director/Zoning Administrator Gary Neiss to fill the position of retiring Town Administrator Jon Pearson on Tuesday.

Pearson will retire after 22 years of service to Carefree, on May 1.

Councilmen discussed wanting to hire someone who was already familiar with the community and a reduction in the staff workload. Consideration was also given to the potential cost savings of combining three jobs. Neiss was hired as Carefree’s Planning Director in May of 2003. Soon after coming on board he assumed the Zoning Administrator’s position from Pearson and has worked closely with him ever since.

“We have somebody who is interested in the job and can do it well,” Mayor Wayne Fulcher said. “He’s already here and part of the staff and we should give him serious consideration.”

Councilman Glenn Miller agreed, adding, “It is best to stay in-house.”

Long-time Councilman Greg Gardner, who was involved in hiring Neiss for Planning Director, called him “the cream that rose to the top.”

Town Attorney Tom Chenal said state law does not require Carefree to post a job opening for Pearson’s position in his reply to a question posed by Councilman’s David Schwan.

“We’re all right as long as we follow the Open Meeting Law,” he said.

Schwan said he had always been impressed by Neiss’ emphasis on Carefree complying with the law.

“I’m confident he can keep us out of trouble by doing what the law requires,” he said.

Ron Clarke, the Vice Chairman of Carefree’s Planning and Zoning Commission, said, “Gary Neiss has been well trained by Jon Pearson and he certainly has Carefree’s best interests at heart.”

Fulcher added there was a history in Carefree of someone doing both the Town and Zoning Administrator’s jobs. He was referring to the out-going Pearson.

Neiss was a Senior Planner with the City of Scottsdale and was also a Planning Consultant with the Phoenix law firm, Beus Gilbert, before his tenure with the Town of Carefree.