Steamboat Springs Alan Lanning's role as Steamboat Springs' city manager will end Saturday.
The Steamboat Springs City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a severance agreement and news release announcing the end of Lanning's employment. Lanning did not attend the meeting, and Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord acted as city manager in his place.
"After a number of months of struggling with management related issues, Mr. Lanning and the City Council have decided to part ways," the release states.
DuBord will fill Lanning's position until an interim city manager is chosen. The process to find qualified city manager candidates typically takes six to eight months, City Clerk Julie Jordan said. This is not DuBord's first time in the role, having served as interim city manager for seven months in 2006 after then-city manager Paul Hughes stepped down from the position.
The agreement outlining Lanning's severance package is more generous than what was stipulated in his original contract. Lanning will receive seven months of severance pay, equal to about $72,000 after deductions. He has until May 31, 2009, to pay the city $133,000 for a city loan of 20 percent of the purchase price of his house, plus 20 percent of its appreciation.
City Attorney Tony Lettunich indicated that the additional time granted by City Council before the loan comes due is based on Lanning's request to allow his children to finish the upcoming school year.
Lettunich said Lanning was not fired and did not resign, but that he reached a severance agreement, which is a mutual parting of ways with City Council.
Former City Council member Towny Anderson spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting to highlight the positive changes Lanning made during his time as city manager.
"City government morale has never been higher," Anderson said, citing changes Lanning made in the city's finance, planning and public works departments. "He did what we asked him to do."
Anderson said a city manager is hired to implement the direction and philosophy of the City Council, but also to take strong action rather than act as a puppet of that council.
A previous City Council hired Lanning in April 2006. His contract began in July of that year. During his time in City Hall, Lanning rearranged or consolidated several city departments - adding staff to planning and finance - while dealing with contentious issues such as historic preservation and the city's watershed protection ordinance.
But the current City Council raised questions about Lanning's performance, specifically customer service and interaction with the community and council, during a closed session in February and Lanning's annual evaluation June 30. Those discussions ultimately led to Tuesday's severance agreement.
Former City Council President Susan Dellinger echoed Anderson's comments about the responsibilities of the position and voiced concerns about the difficulty of the transition to a new city manager. She asked the council to think very hard about what they expect from the new city manager and identify responsibilities clearly.
Lettunich said the council has not discussed the next step to find a new city manager or given any direction, but he said that discussion probably will be on the agenda for the Aug. 5 City Council meeting.
"We need to discuss what we are looking for," City Council President Pro-tem Cari Hermacinski said of the next step to find qualified candidates. "And we need to make sure we communicate it clearly."