South Sound 911, the voter-approved agency building a seamless emergency communications system to improve public safety, has its first executive director and a vision for the work he will lead.
The nine-member Policy Board unanimously voted Jan. 23 to approve a contract with Andrew Neiditz, who has served as Lakewood’s city manager since 2005. The contract, with an annual salary of $175,000, will run for three years, with a two-year extension available by mutual agreement.
“This is a very important step as we work toward implementing the will of voters across the county,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, the board’s chairwoman. “Andrew’s knowledge of the community and experience with public safety systems and complex projects will serve us well as we make progress on building a radio and dispatch network that serves every resident of Pierce County.”
Neiditz has more than 25 years of senior executive experience in local government. Prior to joining Lakewood, he served as city administrator in Sumner and held two leadership positions with the county – deputy county executive and executive director of public safety.
Neiditz said he welcomes “the significant challenge we have in building a new public enterprise. Our success is critically important, and to that I’m fully committed.”
South Sound 911’s Combined Operations Board, which is comprised of police and fire chiefs, voted Dec. 14 to recommend hiring Neiditz. The Policy Board, which consists of elected officials representing member jurisdictions, voted Jan. 9 to confirm the hire, provided that contract negotiations were successful.
Neiditz will start in his new post Feb. 28, after completing the severance conditions in his contract with Lakewood.
In a related development, the Policy Board also voted to adopt mission and vision statements for the new agency, which is replacing the patchwork of incompatible radio systems and dispatch facilities with a modern system that will provide fast and reliable communications among law enforcement, firefighters and 9-1-1 dispatchers.
The new system, approved by voters in a countywide election in 2011, will cost $105 million and will include new, updated dispatch centers. Part of the project’s expense will be covered by an Enhanced 9-1-1 tax (20 cents per telephone line) that the County Council authorized in 2010. Other funding includes general obligation bonds the council approved July 31 to finance the purchase and installation of new radio equipment. The Eatonville Fire Department and Graham Fire and Rescue are among the 40 fire and police agencies that will get new radio equipment.