Our View: Steps in the right direction

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Editorial Board, January to May 2013

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Randy Rudasics, community representative
  • John Centner, community representative

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At Issue

City manager expectations

Our View

We’re pleased the City Council finally made progress on updating its job description and expectations for Steamboat’s top government employee.

The Steamboat Springs City Council’s decision to remove “interim” from Deb Hinsvark’s city manager title grabbed the headlines last week, but the council deserves kudos for a related step taken during its March 5 meeting. 

We’ve previously criticized the council for dragging its feet in establishing clear and measurable expectations for its city manager, particularly in the wake of former manager Jon Roberts’ unceremonious departure last fall. Roberts was on the receiving end of an impromptu and highly critical performance review by several council members in August. Roberts kept his job, with the council vowing to come to agreement on a specific list of expectations for the city manager. 

Roberts then resigned in October, and Hinsvark, who was his deputy city manager, took on the interim role. The council was in no rush to conduct a formal search process for Roberts’ successor — a move we supported — but it seemed also to delay progress on formalizing an updated job description for the city’s CEO.

Last week, the council finally started to make good on its August promise. Among the steps it took at the March 5 meeting were reviewing the council’s own goals as well as a list of 12 goals presented by Hinsvark. Council members also reviewed the existing job description — last updated in 2006 — for Steamboat’s city manager as well as a city manager job description used by the town of Parker. The council agreed to re-write the job description to include information compiled during Steamboat’s 2008 search for a CEO as well as the best of what Parker’s description offers. 

While not all council members agreed with the decision to remove Hinsvark’s interim status — it was a 4-2 vote, with Cari Hermacinski and Sonja Macys dissenting — they were unanimous in a decision to direct staff to update the city manager job description, which also serves as a de facto list of expectations. 

As mentioned during the meeting by Hermacinski and council President Bart Konouvsky, Steamboat’s lack of consistency from its city manager position has been a detriment in recent years. And as we’ve maintained since Roberts’ unscripted review in August, the City Council owes it to its top employee and its constituents to make clear what the expectations are for the city manager. We’re pleased to see concrete steps in that direction. 

Comments

Paul Hughes 1 year, 7 months ago

The City Manager's job description is described in detail in the City Charter. I assume that what the Pilot calls the "job description" is perhaps Council's expectations as to how the City Manager will discharge that job description. That's an important distinction, because some past Council members have thought that they could rewrite the City Manager's job description to suit themselves, without asking the voters to amend the Charter.

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