Lanning, council part ways

Severance agreement approved for Steamboat's city manager

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— 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."

Comments

Dan Hill 5 years, 9 months ago

Ah my taxes at work - first the school board and now this. I know what the answer is next time someone tells me they need to increase taxes - stop wasting money it on petty feuding and maybe I'll think about it.

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BoatMaster 5 years, 9 months ago

At my place of business if a person is not performing as desired they are given a review and time to change. Sometimes if they are moving in the right direction but not quite there they are given a 2nd chance to make their corrections.

I find it is much better to work with someone who has potential then to terminate and start over.

I hope he was given the proper chances to correct his way of doing business. Sounds to me like he made some great changes but there were a few things he did that were not agreable to Council. I would have given him one more chance. How bad would that have been???

I don't envy anyone that works in Public service in this town. Seems very tough to have a enjoyable life doing so.

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Nitro 5 years, 9 months ago

Big mistake. So, next November, perhaps we'll get four new Council members who have the best interest of the entire community and the wisdom to understand the workings of municipal government. Or maybe, just maybe, the current Council can learn something from this huge blunder. A message to some of these new members - don't allow the power seeking few to mislead you again.

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flotilla 5 years, 9 months ago

...And the realtors rejoice. Just another person out of the way for steamboat700.

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sieverding 5 years, 9 months ago

So this means that 75% of the city managers in the last 20 years were fired, right?

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justathought 5 years, 9 months ago

"We need to discuss what we are looking for," "And we need to make sure we communicate it clearly." JUST give him/her a list of what laws they are allowed to enforce and who's axxes they have to kiss. Should be real up front with that so that the candidates realize that their management and business education/experience is not actually first priority.

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Neil O'Keeffe 5 years, 9 months ago

Round and round we go. The new city manager will be on board with the current council many of whom are sure to be replaced in the next election now that their allegiances are so apparent. And then there replacements will surely have issues with the city manager because he was groomed by former city council members. Sounds like a real SNAFU that is sure to continue unless we find a way to eliminate councils personal agendas and special interest influence. No different than national politics I guess. Believe!

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sieverding 5 years, 9 months ago

One way to clean house would be to get a new city attorney and assistant city attorney. The last time I looked the local laws said that the "assistant city attorney" is responsible for making sure that Steamboat complies with its own laws and the constitutions of the U.S. and CO. I think that should be changed to "city attorney", which is what it probably said. I read that just a few days ago the attorney general of the State of New York sent some 200 lawyers who work for governments there letters telling them they cannot have a simultaneous private practice. In the Colorado Rules of Professional Practice, a lawyer is required to get permission from a government If he engages in private and government related work. If you look at what the city spends on Lettunich & Vanderbloemen, plus in house legal staff (which is sometimes more than one full time position), you have a pretty big budget. If you advertised a full time city attorney position, I think you would some really great applications. You could hire someone from outside the local area who isn't beholden to anyone.

Years ago I was offered a job at HUD to develop technical capacity in local governments. There is probably someone doing this sort of service now and books on the subject.

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424now 5 years, 9 months ago

Rok,

"No different than national politics I guess. Believe!"

You have a point there, perhaps we should be looking for a mayor. How do we get that started?

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Robert Huron 5 years, 9 months ago

First the School Superintendent and now the City Manager get paid to do nothing. All I can say you people really know how to throw someones else's money away. You'd all fit in well with the present Administration in Washington.

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wonderwoman 5 years, 9 months ago

Too bad Lanning wasn't willing to be the Council's puppet; they could have all lived happily ever after. Maybe the Council can recruit a realtor to be the new City Manager. Then there won't be any dissent.

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Harvey Lyon 5 years, 9 months ago

This is what.....the 6th City Manager in 10 years?????. I'd say our elected officials don't know what they want which means our citizens don't know what they want.

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sieverding 5 years, 9 months ago

I think the council needs to clearly define its role. I was under the impression that council members were not supposed to communicate directly with city employees. The city sounds like an organization with too many bosses.

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