Dillingham taps Tod Larson to take the helm

Sep 26, 2017

New city manager accepted the city council's offer and will move from Seldovia to Dillingham by Nov. 8. The retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel is "excited to get to Dillingham and work with the Mayor, City Council and Citizens to continue the momentum developed in the City.”

Tod Larson has been hired to be Dillingham's new city manager.
Credit courtesy KPEDD

After a lengthy search, the City of Dillingham announced Tod Larson has been hired as city manager.

Mayor Alice Ruby said the city council was pleased approve the contract with Larson, who is currently the Seldovia city manager.

“We expect him to actually be here and at his desk on about November 8,” she said.

Larson has been in Seldovia for a little over a year. Prior to that he administered the county jail in Cody, Wyoming, for six years, and before that Larson spent 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

“I’ve done numerous jobs that are applicable, such as emergency management to running a jail, I was a certified welder for a while, so I have a really broad background. I have a lot of leadership and management depth, and working at pretty high levels,” Larson said during an August visit to town with two other final candidates.

The council was impressed, Ruby said, with Larson’s interactions with the community, city staff, and the council, and his ongoing studies into this second career.

“He has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Wyoming, and he’s been working on a Masters of Legal Studies. So those were good indications of someone who believes in continuing to learn, and continuing to get insight into how things are done now,” she said.

Interim manager Don Moore, for whom Ruby and the council have tremendous respect, will depart his post in early October. Former manager Rose Loera has agreed to help in a transition period until Larson’s arrival in November.

Dillingham’s city manager is paid $110,000 annually, and the council agreed to pay Larson a $10,000 hiring bonus to help cover moving costs, plus a one-time housing allowance of $2,500. He will also be allowed to use a city vehicle until the spring barge arrives.

According to the consultant Dillingham used in its hiring process, the salary is lower than similar positions in Bethel, Kotzebue, Kodiak, Cordova, Valdez, and Sitka, but higher than Haines.

On a posting for the job, among the “top ten reasons” to be the Dillingham city manager are the “incredible commercial and subsistence fishing”, “a community with heart”, experienced staff and committed mayor and city council, and “challenges that matter”.

“Every community has challenges. Dillingham is no different. Its operating budget is $12.1 million. Revenues come from: 6% Sales Tax, a Property Tax of 13.0 mills and Special Taxes: 6% Gaming Tax; 10% Alcohol/Accommodation Tax. Needs: the Waste Water Lagoon needs upgrading. Harbor erosion requires bank stabilization,” read the job posting.

Larson said he’s up to the task.

“I’m excited to get to Dillingham and work with the Mayor, City Council and Citizens to continue the momentum developed in the City.”

dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281