Steamboat Springs City Council approves new contract for City Manager Deb Hinsvark

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Deb Hinsvark

Reader poll

Do you agree with the Steamboat Springs City Council’s decision to make Deb Hinsvark the permanent city manager?

  • Yes, she has done a great job as interim city manager. 17%
  • No, she isn’t qualified. 53%
  • I don’t know, but the city should have at least done a search for candidates. 25%
  • I haven’t been following the story. 5%

163 total votes.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night made official Deb Hinsvark's promotion to city manager.

By a vote of 5-2, the council approved a new contract for the city's former interim city manager, deputy city manager and finance director.

“I hope I make everyone proud. I'm certainly going to try,” Hinsvark said after the meeting.

Hinsvark's contract was approved after a discussion about how her job performance will be evaluated this year. The council accepted a proposal from member Kevin Kaminski to review Hinsvark’s performance in six months instead of the year outlined in her contract.

Kenny Reisman, who supported Hinsvark's promotion and her new contract, ended up one of the two “no” votes on the contract because he didn't think the added evaluation was necessary.

Kaminski also proposed that the council meet soon in executive session “to build a framework of Deb's basic job responsibilities.”

But that request was dropped after other council members said their recent conversations with Hinsvark at council meetings about her job expectations were sufficient, and future conversations about the council's goals for the city manager should be done in public.

Council member Cari Hermacinski was the only one on the dais to oppose the new contract.

Earlier this month, she questioned why the City Council was “in a hurry to remove Hinsvark's interim title” and said the council first should approve changes to the city manager's job description and expectations before weighing the new contract.

Council members supportive of Hinsvark's promotion said she brings a strong work ethic and sense of stability to a position that has seen heavy turnover in recent years.

The council also has signed off on a number of goals Hinsvark proposed for herself that range from creating a “sustainable strategic pay plan” for city staff to improving the financial performance of Howelsen Ice Arena, Howelsen Hill Ski Area and the city's airport by 10 percent.

Hinsvark will be paid a base salary of $151,407.

If she resigns or her employment is terminated, she will receive two months of salary as severance pay.

Iron Horse Inn

Also Tuesday night, the council was hesitant to give Hinsvark much feedback on a Chicago-based developer's proposal to replace the Iron Horse Inn with a new affordable housing project.

“This is a bigger discussion that needs to be on a future agenda,” council President Bart Kounovsky said.

Developer Bob Helle is in the early stages of developing a proposal with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority that would replace the half-empty hotel complex with a 42-unit affordable housing project.

Hinsvark told the council she has heard from seven or eight other people who have an interest in the property. She said she decided to bring Helle's proposal to the council first because it was the most detailed and advanced.

She asked the council whether it wants to see the property continue to be used as affordable housing, as the city originally intended, or whether the council would be interested in opening a bidding process for the property that could attract other types of development as well as a larger purchase price.

“I'd rather us not wait forever (to decide what to do with the property) because that building is deteriorating as we wait,” Hinsvark said.

The Iron Horse Inn currently has 26 efficiency rooms being rented out for $625 per month.

After it continued to operate in the red each year, the overnight hotel portion of the Iron Horse was closed by the city. The nightly hotel operation is in a newer building on the property.

The council decided to discuss the future of the Iron Horse property at a future meeting.

In other action

• The council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of a new ordinance preventing the formation of any marijuana clubs within city limits. If approved on second reading, the ordinance will outlast the emergency one that is set to expire in May.

The ordinance will ban the establishment of the clubs while the council starts crafting a more permanent ordinance regulating all facets of Amendment 64, which legalized the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

The council will talk more about Amendment 64 at a meeting early next month.

• The council voted unanimously to approve more than $500,000 in state and federal grant funding to help replace the oldest taxiway at Steamboat Springs Airport called the Alpha connector.

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

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