Some Steamboat Springs City Council members at odds with city manager

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

  • Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

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Jon Roberts

— The Steamboat Springs City Council will review City Manager Jon Roberts' contract Tuesday night, with a couple of council members expressing concerns about his job performance.

The discussion appears poised to divide members of the council.

On Monday, two council members publicly expressed support for Roberts while three declined to comment when asked if they have confidence in their city's top employee.

Council last reviewed Roberts' performance May 1 during an executive session.

Roberts said Monday that he was surprised late last week when he learned that another performance review was pending Tuesday.

“I'm in a wait-and-see mode,” Roberts said. “I guess on (Tuesday) night I'll find out what this is all about.”

Roberts described his most recent review from the council as a positive one.

“Essentially they indicated they were satisfied with my performance,” he said. “They wanted me to focus on restructuring the (Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District), but there was nothing that came out of that meeting that I would say was a serious concern council had about my performance.”

Roberts said he thinks he has an “excellent” relationship with the current council.

Roberts' contract review was added to the public portion of Tuesday's meeting agenda at the request of council member Walter Magill.

Magill acknowledged Monday that he has concerns about Roberts' leadership, but he declined to elaborate or to cite any specific grievances against the city manager.

“He's helped us a lot with finance stuff, but I'd like to see a little more of the next-step stuff,” Magill said. “Jon's been city manager for (three years). We want to talk about the leadership of the city and where we're going as a city.”

Council members Kevin Kaminski and Sonja Macys also said Monday they have concerns about Roberts' leadership of the city, but each declined to comment when asked if they had confidence in him as city manager.

Kaminski said the meeting would prove to be a “really interesting evening.”

Macys, in her first term on the council, has sparred publicly with Roberts at recent meetings.

Near the end of the July 17 council meeting, Macys chastised Roberts for using the word "Obamacare" to describe President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Macys labeled the word “inflammatory political rhetoric,” and she also accused Roberts of exaggerating how much more money the city has had to spend on health insurance as a result of health care reform under Obama.

Roberts denied both charges and said he stands by his comments.

Macys also has criticized Roberts in recent months for his handling of the city's push for pay raises for its employees as well as for his efforts to have 500 acre-feet of the city's emergency water reserve moved from Stagecoach Reservoir to Lake Catamount.

“I've been very clear about my concerns. I'm not the person who will sit on something and stay quiet,” Macys said Monday. “I'm going to bring it up and say 'Can we do something different?' ... If a change is to be made, we'll see. But the idea here is that we're all looking for the best possible outcome for the city with all of our actions.”

Council President Bart Kounovsky and council member Scott Myller defended Roberts on Monday while council members Kenny Reisman and Cari Hermacinski declined to comment on the upcoming review. When asked if he had confidence in Roberts as city manager, Reisman also declined to comment.

Kounovsky, however, was quick to defend the city manager.

“I have full confidence in Mr. Roberts and I'm extremely pleased with what he has done in the last three years as leader of our city,” he said.

Myller said he was disappointed to see the review added to the agenda.

"I think our review (of Roberts) in May was fine,” he said. “I think he has helped us be a lean government machine during these tough economic times.”

The review of Roberts' contract is scheduled as a public agenda item, but council attorney Tony Lettunich said personnel discussions are held in executive session. An executive session to discuss personnel is the first item on Tuesday's agenda. However, any council action taken on the city manager must take place during the public portion of the meeting.

Roberts started with the city in February 2009. Lettunich said Roberts' contract has no expiration or renewal date, but it calls for annual performance reviews.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

Really unfortunate that the crux of Sonja Macy's complaint is partisan political differences. Everyone including Democrats are calling it Obamacare. Hardly a pejorative at this time. And his standing up to the budget busting city employee raises should be commended, not be grounds for complaints.

And if she disagrees with the city's projected healthcare costs then do some work and dig into the numbers and find the errors.

But please do not let petty partisan politics infect city government.

And instead of retreating to a private session to discuss job performance, how about doing the public a favor and have the city council publicly state what are the top priorities for the city manager so the public can see if Mr Roberts is doing his job?

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walt jones 2 years, 4 months ago

As I and others in the community "question a couple of members of city councils performance"!!

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cindy constantine 2 years, 4 months ago

Remind me again how long Council Members serve? One new member of the Council has got to show a greater concern for the taxpayers in the community! I hope every Council Member is fully aware of the national economic picture and the fact that Congress is becoming more divided with every passing month. Meaning . . . we can not count on much significant work being done no matter who is elected President. Listen up folks, we are on our own . . . additional businesses will be closing downtown before the end of the year so we better hunker down and SAVE MONEY!!

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Cindy -- Taxpayer money was meant to burn -- a philosophy our Council wholeheartedly subscribes to -- it's called JOB SECURITY. NEW cars, NEW equipment, NEW computers, NEW flat-screen monitors, constant IT expenditures -- no matter how the old still works -- bad investments and bail-outs -- spend spend spend, while we still can.

It will take a complete collapse of the national economy, and subsequent reorganization, to effect any changes. The Chinese will run a tighter ship. And I can't wait.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

PS -- Google "fractional reserves" to see how private banks circumvent the Constitution, which states that only Congress may coin money and regulate the value thereof, by creating money out of thin air, fueling inflation and for their own profit.

It's not a pretty picture, across the board. Council is just following the national lead. Get it while you can.

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Tim Keenan 2 years, 4 months ago

Calling the ACA Obamacare, and seeking to bash it in council, is about as partisan as it gets, but that in itself isn't a reason to question his job performance. However, I don't know if he should be congratulated for helping to ensure that Steamboat loses quality employees to other resort towns. It's a constant bleed that will only get worse until these people are paid a wage commensurate with their experience. Even a small raise and a timeline for future, larger raises would go a long way toward keeping the many talented city workers here in town.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Scott, what are the top priorities for the city?

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John Weibel 2 years, 4 months ago

Tim,

Have you checked into other towns finances? Ours is not that pretty and last months 6% decline when one takes out the airline bump is not a rosey picture.

Everyone wants a raise today as the cost of living is going up. However the us exported our inflation to other countries. That baby is going to come home to roost and the standard of living or consumption is going down. The excessive lifestyles afforded by government and fed manipulation of the markets allowed people to live large. What goes up always comes back to earth. When growing up we took maybe one vacation a year and many times that was to spend time with family elsewhere. Now we expect to jet to puerto Rico to surf or the boat to ski.

The chamber ought to be teaching mandarin to get a jumP on other resorts. As the Chinese are soon to become the ugly American vacationers unless their government simply buys our hard assets here and we become their workers to supply the new district one.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

Brent, Are those the goals set by the City Council for the City Manager to achieve or the overall priorities for the City Council?

Seems to me that those goals are more the legislative agenda for the City Council than the job performance objectives of the city manager. Though the two are related since presumably the city manager is expected to plan agenda items related to those objectives.

Regardless, it appears that nothing that city council members are complaining about are on the list of city priorities.

I do not claim to know whether of not Mr Roberts is doing a good job. But it is appears his primarily fault is to not share the same overall political viewpoints. Personally, I think it is better to have some tension between city manager and the elected council since then there is more questioning of ideas and so things are better thought out. The only way the disaster known as Iron Horse was allowed to happen was because all involved were of the same mind and no one asked hard questions.

I appreciate Sonja Macy's passion, but it is misdirected. Dig deep into the facts and show what they got it wrong. Take your political differences with Mr Roberts as a challenge to defeat him on the facts.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Scott, We agree about the usefulness of goals kept in view. (Thanks for the link, Brent.)

I wouldn't put much thought into "Obamacare" as a real factor in Roberts' situation. Sonja is smart enough to dispute Roberts on Health Care and move on. Similarly, the "restructuring the (Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District)" got my attention, and I called the City staff to better understand this "priority". I was told the quote is not accurate and that would not be the top priority.

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