Darren Schulz
Darren Schulz

Public Works Director
Carson City, Nev.
Employees: 126
Population Served: 58,000
Budget: $45 million

After the 2008 recession devastated his state, Carson City Public Works Director Darren Schulz was faced with massive budget cuts. Although Nevada lost more public works and engineering jobs than any other state, Schulz was able to “right the ship.”

During that time, Schulz focused on technology and collaboration with private partners to keep afloat. It was during the downturn that he was able to explain to policymakers in Carson City the advantages of funding depreciation in their utilities.

Schulz believes the cost of replacing a given piece of infrastructure is typically much higher than its original construction cost many years before, due to inflation, construction conditions, and the reduced availability of grants or developer funding. To avoid excessive reliance on debt, Schulz helped educate elected officials about a policy that commits a certain amount of current rate revenue to the replacement of system assets.

With years of experience managing Carson City’s streets, water utility, wastewater utility, real property, facilities, solid waste, sewer, and fleet, Schulz has plenty of advice.

“Customer service has been a real strong target that we work on in our department. We have created an atmosphere that puts our residents first and that comes down to taking the time. It’s true we cannot satisfy all of them and we do what you can. But 95% of the time we are able to get them to buy into the reasoning. At the very least we want them to understand why or why not we do a particular action or project,” says Schulz.