Oak Creek For Ray Leibensperger, the only thing harder than trying to fill some big shoes at a new job is not having any shoes to fill at all.
He is expected to step into the newly created position for the town of Oak Creek sometime around the first of March.
When he does, he will be faced with some challenges.
First and foremost, Leibensperger will have to earn the respect of his co-workers. After he first met some of the employees, he had second thoughts on how easy it would be to come in and take the helm in an environment that has jelled without a town manager.
Oak Creek Public Works Director Chuck Wisecup told the Steamboat Pilot & Today that when the town employees were told about the first meeting about Leibensperger, they weren't aware he was going to be at the meeting.
"It was not a reception, we didn't even know he was coming to the meeting," he said. "I was told there was a meeting to stop the stories about the town managers."
Wisecup was referring to personnel conflicts Leibensperger had with a female co-worker that were made public the week Leibensperger was offered the job. Leibensperger was exonerated from any wrongdoing.
"If the employees were apprehensive about a town manager before, these allegations are going to make it more so," Wisecup said.
But for Wisecup, having a town manager come in will be just like any other person he would meet.
"Respect is earned on both sides," he said.
Oak Creek Police Chief Dan Kelliher said he doesn't see any problems arising from having a town manager with whom to work.
"As far as the police department goes, I think everything will be just fine," he said.
But Leibensperger's big challenge will be coming in and getting his job done. In Kelliher's eyes, that means finding grant money to supply another revenue source in the town.
"That's a big issue and a lot people are concerned about that," he said. "He needs to perform the functions that the town hired him to do."
Over the phone from his home in Florida, Leibensperger said he feels confident in his ability to get grant money. However, he will have to accustom himself to the different funding sources in Colorado.
"I really don't know what's available," Leibensperger said.
His track record in Florida is a successful one. In the past five years as town clerk for Lake Helen, Fla., Leibensperger said he got the city a $1.2 million grant for land acquisition, a $220,000 grant for lake restoration and two $50,000 grants for ball fields.
Ann Robbins, finance manager for Lake Helen, confirmed those grants received.
Those grants were mostly competition grants from the state offices in Florida. The process Leibensperger described to receive the grants was similar to Colorado's Mineral Impact and Great Outdoors Colorado grant programs.
Leibensperger wasn't aware of the those programs, but he said learning about them will be one of his first jobs as town manager.
Aside from receiving grants to solve some of Oak Creek's normal operating expenses, the town also will have to cover the new expense of Leibensperger's salary, which was increased from $40,000 to $43,200 by town trustees Wednesday night.
Acting Treasurer Nancy Stahoviak said the $3,200 raise comes from the money budgeted to pay a town manager between January and March. Since Leibensperger is not expected to start work until March, the raise will be covered.
"They'll have to figure out what they'll do in 2002," Stahoviak said.
Half of Leibensperger's original $40,000 was paid for out of the general fund, and the other half is spread between the electric fund and water and sewer fund in the town's 2001 budget.
Money and politics aside, Oak Creek Trustee Sonja Norris said she is excited to have a town manager come on and see what happens.
"I think people are excited about it, too, and are really looking forward to getting a town manager," she said.
Leibensperger also is looking forward to the move, but he still hasn't found a place to live. On Friday, he got a lead on a place to rent in south Routt.
"So, hopefully I'm going to have someplace to lay down and make some coffee," he said.
More importantly, he needs a place to put his big-screen television.
"I've always wanted one and now I have it and I'm not getting rid of it," he said.