The city of San Bernardino has recruited Reno City Manager Charles McNeely to be its new top administrator.

McNeely, 57, who has been Reno city manager for 13 years, is scheduled to leave that position May 29 and start his new $275,000-a-year job June 1.

McNeely will take over from interim San Bernardino City Manager Mark Weinberg, who temporarily succeeded City Manager Fred Wilson, who last September became Huntington Beach’s chief administrator.

McNeely said he had not actively been looking for a new job, but became interested in the San Bernardino position after being contacted by an executive search firm working on behalf of San Bernardino. The San Bernardino job pays $20,000 a year more annually.

“I’ve been in Nevada for the better part of 13 years, so I’ve always envisioned coming back to California at some point,” McNeely said.

Prior to being hired as Reno’s city manager, McNeely was the city manager of Seaside and assistant city manager of Palo Alto.

Reno officials said that while they are sorry to see McNeely go, there are no hard feelings towards San Bernardino officials.

“Frankly, he’s a very talented guy and I’m sure a lot of people would like to have him,” said Kevin Knutson, Reno’s director of community relations. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

“I think he felt to some degree that he had done all that he wanted to accomplish here and was looking for new challenges,” Knutson said. “I have not heard anyone say anything negative about it. In fact, I think everyone’s happy for him and we’re eager to move on and find somebody new for our next stage of evolution.”

Knutson said the Reno City Council plans to hire an interim city manager to succeed McNeely, and, like San Bernardino, retain a search firm to find a more permanent city manager.

San Bernardino Assistant City Manager Lori Sassoon said her city followed “the usual process” to find a new city manager.

“We hired an executive search firm,” Long Beach-based Alliance Resource Consulting, she said. “We put out brochures. We cast a net wide seeking the best people to actively apply. That’s very typical.

“Most city managers are coming from another city, after all,” she noted.
Sassoon said the city did not reach out directly to any particular candidate.

“That would be unusual,” she said. “But the recruiters do. They find people who are interested in making their next move for whatever personal or professional reasons they may have.”

McNeely was hired after being interviewed by Mayor Patrick Morris and the City Council.

“We think he’s great,” Sassoon said. “We think he’s going to bring a lot of fresh ideas and creative leadership. He’s been incredibly successful in Reno and we’re looking forward to the same kind of success here.”

McNeely said he is already starting to familiarize himself with the issues facing San Bernardino.

“There are a number on the table,” he said. “Economic development. Public safety issues. Cultural arts and recreation programs are critical. Downtown redevelopment. Those are the kinds of issues that the council members are concerned about.”

More reading: The Reno Iconoclast blog photoshopped the photo to the right regarding what they called McNeely’s offer for “an even bigger pot of gold than what he had found in Reno.”