First town manager finds routine

After eight months, Leibensperger continues to keep his door open

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— Oak Creek's town manager aims to make a dent in his "to do" list by 8 a.m. every day.

That's after he's gotten down to business at 6:30 a.m.

Ray Leibensperger, Oak Creek's first-ever town manager, said he realized when he accepted the position earlier this year that it would demand more than a nine to five commitment.

Showing up early to tackle whatever finds its way to his desk merely works to his advantage, he said.

"I get more accomplished from 6:30 (a.m.) to 8 (a.m.) than I do in the same amount of time any other time of the day," he said. "No one else is here when I come here, and I tend to like it that way."

Leibensperger said he appreciates the calm and quiet that welcomes him when he arrives at town hall, but he also looks forward to working with people.

Board members would typically stop by early before they went to work when he first started working at town hall, he said. Now visitors tend to arrive later in the day.

Leibensperger said he is confident that people in Oak Creek understand his door is always open to receive any input, whether it be in disagreement or in favor of the town's policies.

"Citizens will have a concern or complaint or interest, and I'm not one to close the door," he said. "If I'm doing something it will just get pushed aside."

Teresa King, an office assistant at Oak Creek Town Hall, agrees.

"People here feel they can come whenever they want and with whatever they want," King said. "He listens."

A town manager's role comes with its share of problem-solving in order to address all those concerns and complaints, Leibensperger said.

As caretaker of Oak Creek, he said, the budget demands the most attention.

He and the Oak Creek Town Board of Trustees will be gradually working toward a finished budget through a series of budget workshops over the next month.

Leibensperger said board members' willingness to be flexible with what could be treated rigidly makes his job easier.

"We've got a board that's amenable to changing things that need to be changed," he said.

Board member Sonja Norris said the board has maintained an excellent relationship with Leibensperger since he first began on Feb. 26.

As Oak Creek's first town manager, Liebersperger had many shoes to fill when he accepted the position, Norris said.

Budgeting had proved to be one of the tasks that was difficult without a central person to guide the board and report on the progress, she said.

Leibensperger has already streamlined the budget process in many ways, she said.

Norris said the board didn't really know what to expect when it first began looking for potential candidates to fill the town manager's role.

"He has far exceeded our expectations in dealing with the public," she said.

Leibensperger moved from Florida with his wife, Chris, who now works for Routt County.

This will be their first full winter in the Yampa Valley, he said. It won't be quite as balmy as down south but the beauty of the area more than makes up for the difference in temperature, he added.

"God knows in Colorado there are a lot of nice somethings to see and a lot of nice people to meet," he said.

Leibensperger credits the people who work beside him at the Oak Creek Town Hall for making his transition run so smoothly.

"We've got excellent people on staff," he said.

While he said he has found a routine that meshes well with his responsibilities, daily challenges still demand solutions.

"I like to call them opportunities," he said.

He said he wants to bring more business to town in order to diversify Oak Creek's tax base, which is almost exclusively residential.

The challenge of dealing with the effects of Sept. 11 and the potential loss of town revenue must also be considered, he said.

"We're impacted to the extent that a lot of our people work in Steamboat," he said. "If Steamboat is forced to cut back and our people lose jobs, then our sales tax revenue goes down. It's a snowball effect."

Despite all the new "opportunities" he will face in the coming weeks, Leibensperger said it helps to keep things in perspective of what can be accomplished today and what battles must be left to tomorrow.

"There are always things you would like see changed," he said. "But you learn to go through your normal work week, and you start anew every day."

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