Steamboat Springs City Council to consider extending Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark's contract

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Deb Hinsvark

— Saying they don't want to launch a search for a permanent city manager before November, members of the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night agreed to consider next month offering Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark an extended contract.

Council members said they were leery of embarking on a search for Jon Roberts' permanent replacement because four of their seats are up for election in November and because they are pleased with Hinsvark's leadership since she took the interim role in the fall.

They also questioned whether any strong candidates would consider applying for the job with the council election looming.

“In my mind, before we go to a search, I think we should offer Deb a one-year contract,” council member Walter Magill said at the start of a work session called to better define the council's goals for its city manager.

At the end of the work session, Magill, along with council President Bart Kounovsky and members Scott Myller and Kenny Reisman, voted to discuss the potential contract extension for Hinsvark at the council's March 5 meeting.

Council members Sonja Macys and Cari Hermacinski opposed the motion.

“I don't think that's the right direction,” Macys said about Magill's proposal for a one-year city manager contract for Hinsvark. “I think we need to be thinking of a long-term vision.”

Hermacinski said she also is opposed to a one-year contract because it could potentially “tie the hands” of the council seated following the November election.

During a lengthy discussion, council members also agreed to four major goals for their city manager, with the top one being to follow the will and the goals of the council.

The other goals included maintaining a visible presence in the community and at signature city events, managing city employees and ensuring their performance evaluations are done in a timely manner and maintaining an open-door policy in the community.

The council also mostly was supportive of a list of nine goals Hinsvark developed along with her management team.

They included creating a “sustainable strategic pay plan” for city staff; improving the financial performance of Howelsen Ice Arena, Howelsen Ski Area and the city's airport by 10 percent; and responding to the findings of a to-be-formed stormwater task force, among other things.

Council members also agreed to work to finalize their list of goals and outline how to measure the city manager's progress on them at the next meeting.

Hinsvark, who was the city's finance director before serving in the city manager's office, said Tuesday night that she would be happy to continue as city manager and help achieve the council's goals while it waits to see what changes in direction could occur following the November election.

“At this point in my career, I'm happy to continue in this role for at least another year,” she said.

In December, the council amended Hinsvark's contract to giver her an additional $1,000 per month in pay for the added responsibilities of the interim position.

According to the approved contract, Hinsvark's interim salary is $145,407, which is about $8,000 less than what former City Manager Jon Roberts' salary was at the time of his resignation.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich said the contract has no end date and is set to expire only when a permanent city manager is hired.

In other action

• The council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting and discussed the potential monitoring of ozone in the county.

Council members said they were open to splitting the cost of new air-monitoring equipment with the county in 2014 to establish a baseline for ozone levels, but many council members wanted to look into how ozone monitors across the state are funded.

Some also wanted to look to developers and oil and gas operators to potentially share the cost of the equipment. Jody Patten, a spokeswoman for Shell Oil, said the company currently is testing for ozone at a well site near Hayden and one in Moffat County and is sharing the results with the county.

• The council and the commissioners also discussed the county's opposition to a potential Urban Renewal Authority that would fund improvements to downtown Steamboat through tax incremental financing.

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

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