Draper demoted to Road and Bridge assistant director

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners confirmed Monday that Paul Draper, the longtime director of the Road and Bridge Department, has accepted a demotion to assistant director. The county plans to hire a new director for the department.

County Manager Tom Sullivan said the intent is to increase the layers of administration in the Road and Bridge Department. The position of assistant director is new to the county. Sullivan said he will take on additional duties in the interim, including the department’s budget process for 2013.

The change at the Road and Bridge Department was discussed with the county commissioners in public sessions April 3 and 10.

“I offered the (assistant director) position to Paul and he accepted,” Sullivan said. “I think this job fits Paul’s skill sets well.”

Draper was upbeat in a meeting with the commissioners Monday and said his enthusiasm for his role with the county is undiminished.

“I’m committed to the organization,” he said afterward. “I love what I do, especially as far as serving people.”

His change of title came with a salary reduction from $101,587 to $91,416, Sullivan said.

The Road and Bridge Department, along with Yampa Valley Regional Airport and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, is among the largest in the county, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. Both the airport and the Sheriff’s Office have assistant administrators.

“We’ve been looking at the organizational structure of the department for some time,” she said.

Sullivan said the hiring of a new Road and Bridge director could take time because of budget constraints.

“I believe that an assistant director position is warranted; however, since this would require additional revenues or a reallocation of appropriations within the Road and Bridge budget, financial constraints dictate that the opportunity for restructuring be achieved through incremental steps,” he wrote to the commissioners in a memo in early April.

The position of director would be filled when a vacancy takes place in the department, including an opening at the level of a “field operational” job.

Draper displeased the commissioners in the past year over the management of the county’s chip-and-seal program for maintaining its paved roads. The issue came up in public hearings about how the program impacts multi-modal users, particularly bicyclists.

Sullivan said that was not the direct cause of the change in Draper’s status. Issues related to various department heads’ interactions with the commissioners are not unusual, he said.

“That’s my job — to make sure I and the department heads are providing the commissioners with the management and information they need to make decisions,” Sullivan said.

Draper said Monday that he began his employment in the Road and Bridge Department in 1986 and became its director in 1994.

“Paul is still valuable to us,” Commission Chairman Doug Monger said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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