Oak Creek decides to seek a town manager


— After months of discussion, argument and research, the Oak Creek Board of Trustees decided in a split vote to modify the vacant treasurer's position to include the responsibilities of a town manager.
A petition with 77 signatures from Oak Creek residents in support of the hiring of a town manager was shown to the board before the discussion began.
Bill Babcock circulated the petition, but couldn't attend the meeting.
Funds to pay for the new position was a big issue and fueled the dissenting opinion.
"How are we going to afford this?" Clyde Moore asked the board.
Dave Harper and Mike Kien expressed the same concern.
The ballpark yearly salary for a town manager/treasurer that trustees are throwing around is $50,000.
"I believe we're at the point in this town that we can't afford not to have a town manager," Mayor Deb Van Gundy said.
With the number of projects that the town is involved in, a manager should be able to save the town some expenses, she said.
Van Gundy noted the booster station construction project as an example. Oak Creek recently bid out the job for $41,000, which included building a small structure and installing a water pump to improve water pressure in town. In return, the lowest bid Oak Creek received was $82,000, which the trustees agreed they couldn't pay.
Someone is going to have to find a way to cut the costs on the project, she said.
"A town manager would be able to do that," Van Gundy said.
The town doesn't have someone to look out for Oak Creek's interests. That responsibility now rests with the trustees, who are volunteers.
Since Van Gundy became mayor in April, she has volunteered hours of her time to try to help oversee things. However, she admitted she doesn't have the time nor the expertise to be doing that job.
Norris pointed out that Oak Creek would be eligible for grants through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to bring in a town manager.
"If we don't pursue it now, we probably never will," she said. "There are avenues that we can take for funding."
Van Gundy added: "If we get a grant to pay the first year, we can start working on the salary for next year. By then, they will start paying for themselves."
But even if the town can afford the $50,000 ballpark figure, there are still some hurdles to face.
"Where are we going to find an experienced town manager for $50,000?" Trustee Charles Bevan wondered.
Van Gundy said the $50,000 salary figure is an estimate and could be adjusted to get the right person for the job.
"If we decided to go for this we may have to take some cuts," she said.
In a role call vote, the trustees passed a motion to begin the hiring process for a treasure/town manager. It passed 4-3, with Kien, Harper and Moore voting no.
Until the position is filled and the new employee is trained, interim treasurer Nancy Stahoviak will keep doing the books for the town.
To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net


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