Steamboat City Council member suggests performance reviews contributed to parks and rec director's sudden resignation

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Chris Wilson

— A Steamboat Springs City Council member said he thinks poor performance reviews ultimately led to the end of Chris Wilson's 22-year tenure with the city this week.

Reacting to the news Monday that Wilson had resigned as the director of the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, council President Pro Tem Scott Myller said he learned about “troubling” reviews of Wilson from City Manager Deb Hinsvark during a lunch.

“At a lunchtime meeting, Deb and I talked about Chris Wilson, and the indication she gave was Chris had troubling performance reviews,” Myller said.

When asked about that conversation with Myller, Hinsvark said Tuesday that she couldn't comment on a personnel matter.

She said Wilson was a hard worker and very well-liked by his staff and the city's management team.

Wilson said Tuesday that he is happy to “stand on his record” and is hopeful he'll find a new career after resigning from the city.

“My professional integrity speaks for itself,” he said, adding he made budget year after year and his department saw success in the surveys it got back from people who participate in the city-run recreational programs.

Wilson oversaw one of the city's largest departments.

For the department leader's most recent performance evaluation, Myller and council member Sonja Macys said Hinsvark reached out to members of the council for feedback.

That surprised Macys, who said she couldn't recall another time council members have been asked to give their input on a city employee's performance other than the city manager.

“I thought that was kind of strange. That's not our purview,” Macys said. “He's not really City Council's employee.”

Macys praised Wilson's long tenure with the city, saying one of his most significant accomplishments was the advancement of the Yampa River Core Trail.

She added that at the helm of one of the city's biggest departments, Wilson has “made a significant contribution to open space acquisition and trail development.”

Macys' nonprofit, Yampatika, regularly partnered with the city on projects.

Hinsvark said when she evaluates department leaders like Wilson, she seeks feedback from many parties.

“Anytime I'm evaluating a department head who works directly for me, I'm going to reach out to everyone I can to get feedback on their performance, including City Council members, commissions or committees,” she said.

Wilson said Tuesday that he was not aware council members were able to offer their feedback on his job evaluation.

“That's news to me,” he said.

City attorney Tony Lettunich said Wilson has not received any severance pay following his resignation, but there's a chance he could in the coming weeks.

Wilson started with the city in 1991 as a trails coordinator.

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

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 1 month ago

Well, I think that is part of the story. Normally someone in a job for 22 years is asked to make improvements in a performance review.

For an experienced person to resign after a performance review tend to suggest the person did not agree that the requested changes would be an improvement.

And when that happens to someone with years in the job then it suggests that there is something different in working for the new city manager. Just as there is a need to bring in a consultant since the city manager trusts no one there to be the interim manager.

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walt jones 1 year, 1 month ago

I have mentioned this last year in the comments section when Jon Roberts was forced to resign and Deb Hinsvark was placed as interim city manager and then given the position that she is a major concern that the city should look into. since she came from the finance department she of course will want to show drastic improvement in payroll and this starts with in some fashion getting rid of the highest salary staff with the longest tenure. But nobody will pressure Deb because she is the "chosen one" by this city council.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 1 month ago

Walt,

I am more concerned that she is willing to play fast and loose to get her way. As finance director she pushed for staff raises which Jon Roberts remarkably opposed when he figured out the city's revenues projections made it unaffordable in the future. And then suddenly he is a bad city manager and is forced out. She pushed selling the public service building with a city staff report that reads more like a marketing promotion flier than a serious analysis. She suddenly had problems with Yampa Valley Data Partners when Scott Ford questioned selling the public services building.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

I hate to agree with Scott, but in this case he's right: Hinsvark seems to be the common denominator in many of the City's stinkier actions recently. The one person we can't vote out, swings more weight than the rest of them combined. Who reviews HER performance?

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walt jones 1 year, 1 month ago

100% correct Scott. And Rhys I think City Council does her review and I believe it's a closed door session.

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