Town manager idea regains momentum

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Town leaders made it clear at a meeting April 13 that they are serious about hiring a town manager.

The town manager would take on double duties of treasurer and town administrator, which, according to a letter by Cathy Shipley of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, is uncommon, but not unheard of.

Trustee Sonja Norris contacted Shipley for information about the position.

"There is no right or wrong scenario," Shipley wrote. "Boards have determined what will work in their respective communities, given their budgets, existing staff, circumstances and various other factors."

That explanation was good enough for the trustees to decide to look further into the position by calling two men who have held similar manager/treasurer jobs in Golden and Morrison. Shipley supplied the town with the contacts.

"I believe we need someone that will bring this town together," Mayor Deb Van Gundy said. "Right now we have three different parts of the town working on their own."

Van Gundy referred to the police department, public works department and the town administration.

"We have no way of putting together a big picture of what is needed and what is required," she said.

A clear example of the confusion in the town was when Norris and Van Gundy took over as police commissioners, Van Gundy said. Even in the one department it was difficult to get an overall understanding of the intricacies of the police force, she said.

Norris agreed that the town needed to hire one person to oversee the town's action, as well as take on grant writing responsibilities.

"I think the time has come for a town administrator," she said. "We have to have someone working that can prioritize (spending). That would help us balance our budget."

However, Norris had some reservations about the salary.

"The only question I have is where are we going to get the money," she said.

Van Gundy estimated the town would have to pay $50,000 a year if they wanted to find someone qualified for the position.

The mayor explained that the vacant treasurer's position pays $29,000 a year. Also, the town recently received a $25,000 mineral grant that could go toward the manager's first year's salary.

If the manager showed his or her worth in a year, the town would have to find a way to pay the other half of the salary for the next year, Van Gundy said.

Though admitting that adding the town manager position would make his job easier, Trustee Mike Kien reminded the board that the public has spoken on this issue before.

"I have a hard time voting for something that has already been voted down by the town," Kien said.

Trustee Dave Harper agreed, recalling that the biggest issue then was the money.

Two years ago Oak Creek residents were asked in a municipal election if they wanted a town manager. The issue lost acceptance by 18 votes.

However, some town employees and trustees were against the idea of the town manager and went door to door, urging residents to vote against it, Oak Creek resident Charlie Norris explained.

"I would discount the vote due to the campaigning of the town employees," he said from the audience.

Van Gundy was one the people who campaigned against the position but has since changed her position, admitting that it was mistake two years ago to vote against the town manager.

Trustee Clyde Moore wanted to keep an open mind about a town manager.

"I think we, at least, need to follow up on the two individuals," he said of Shipley's contacts.

The trustees agreed.
To cover the duties of the treasurer in the meantime, the town hopes to hire a temporary clerical worker to help Town Clerk Nancy Crawford catch up.


-- To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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