At the Overton Power District Board of Trustees March 16 meeting, the board voted 7-0 in favor of giving OPD General Manager Mendis Cooper a 6 percent pay raise. That brings his total salary to $155,909 which does not include benefits or Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) contributions. The total fiscal impact according to OPD backup material for the item is $11,427 which does include benefits.
It’s quite a ladder that Cooper has climbed since taking over as General Manager on July 12, 2013 with a $140,000 salary. He was given a 2 percent increase in 2014 with a three-year contract because, as then-board member James Pugh put it, Cooper was paid substantially less than other general managers of similar power companies. That was the same argument that was used this time, less than two years later, for a raise that was three times the amount given before.
Meeting minutes from OPD’s 2014 meetings did not clarify who served on the review committee to suggest that Cooper receive a raise but it was approved unanimously with a three-year contract attached to it. The legal jargon of the contract allowed for occasional adjustments of his salary “based upon such factors as performance, longevity, cost of living, comparative salaries, and the financial condition of the District.” Since then, the OPD has suffered two major power outages, hundreds of smaller ones, and yet still does not have any plans relating to disaster recovery, contingency or proper communications. The board ignored those necessities and voted for the raise anyway last week.
According to transparentnevada.com, Cooper finished 2014 with a total pay and benefits bushel of $215,532.93, nearly $20,000 more than 2013. Statistics have yet to be released on his earnings for 2015, but 2016 is sure to go above and beyond what he’s earned thus far.
The committee chosen to review and suggest the 2016 raise were the two board members who are up for reelection this year, Mike Young and Judy Metz. No other candidates filed for Young’s seat giving him an automatic re-election. Metz faces two other candidates for her at-large seat, David Bennett and Phillip Hanson.
During his reports at the meeting, Cooper suggested that he is now working to get contingency plans in place in case another power outage happens again. He said he “hoped” to have them at a future board meeting “soon.”