One month after Reno's police chief announced his resignation, Fire Chief Chuc Lowden said Monday that he is leaving to return to his old job in a smaller, but more lucrative area south of San Francisco.
"It was a tough decision. I enjoyed what I was doing here, but
at this point in time, I'm interested in going back to
California," he said.
Lowden spent five years as chief of the South County Fire
Authority serving San Carlos and Belmont, north of Palo Alto,
before moving to Reno nearly eight years ago.
He leaves a department serving nearly one-half million people
for one that oversees one-fifth that number, but is strapped
He has worked as a consultant with the South County Fire
Authority during vacations this year to review a half dozen
layoffs, three captains' demotions and the failure of a tax
proposal that led to the dismissal of former Chief Herb Jewell in
South County officials credit Lowden with easing the situation
and calming discord with union members, the Palo Alto Daily News
reported last month.
"Chuc's mission is to come in and cure that," San Carlos City
Manager Mike Garvey said Monday.
In Reno, he also has overseen the consolidation of the city and
county fire departments, which Garvey hopes will happen in the
South County area, too.
Garvey said Lowden will earn a base salary of $144,000, compared
with his $130,000 in Reno.
Lowden, who just turned 60, said retirement benefits - more
attractive as a result of his years in California than in Nevada -
were one key issue.
Lowden's departure leaves Reno City Manager Charles McNeely
scrambling to fill both the fire chief's post and that of the
police chief. Jerry Hoover, who became the city's top cop in July
1997, announced his retirement in June to take a consulting
position with an international company.
McNeely said Monday that he expected to fill both jobs by the
end of the year.
"Reno is a very attractive area so I don't think we'll have any
problems recruiting nationwide," he said.