Ex-police chief voices concerns | SteamboatToday.com
Susan Cunningham

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Ex-police chief voices concerns

Oak Creek’s former police chief complained about the job’s low salary and the number of hours required at Thursday’s Town Board meeting.

Guytano Farnan appeared before the board to dispute a bill the town gave him for the majority of his state certification training. The Town Board argued that Farnan, who officially began in December and resigned April 1, knew what the job would require before accepting.

Since resigning, Farnan has accepted a job with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

He said Thursday that he accepted Oak Creek’s chief job thinking his salary was negotiable and not knowing he would not receive pay for the many overtime and on-call hours he worked. He also said he didn’t know he would receive half-time pay while he was in training for his Colorado certification.

“I left a good job because I believed in you,” Farnan said.

Town trustees, as well as several people in the audience, questioned what Farnan was complaining about.

Trustee Mike Kien said Farnan fully understood that the position was salaried, meaning overtime would not be paid. Others emphasized that Farnan was fully aware of the low starting salary before he started.

Trustee Karen Halterman, who served on the panel that chose Farnan, said she was impressed at the start by his attention to detail. Someone so detail-oriented should have been aware of what came along with the job, she said.

“I find it really hard, Guy. (It) sounds like you’re sort of pleading total ignorance over all of these things that were agreed upon,” Halterman said.

Farnan’s training cost almost $5,000, so the town stipulated that he would have to pay the full cost if he left before working a full year. However, the town later decided to charge Farnan only two-thirds of that cost.

The town also charged him $196 for overages on his town cell phone, which Farnan said he already agreed to pay.

And, the town charged him for a psychiatric evaluation and consultation that cost $170 and was meant to work out issues between Farnan and Linda Koile, who now is head of the Police Department.

Farnan disputed that charge, saying he was directed to do it. The Town Board agreed to remove that charge.

There also was a $23 late fee assessed because Farnan has not made payment on his outstanding debt to the town. Farnan asked that that be waived, but the Town Board did not agree about what to do.

Gary Wall, who also was on the interview panel that selected Farnan, said he was troubled that Farnan said the hours were too much.

“If you’re salaried as a police chief, you do the job, you do whatever it takes,” Wall said.

Farnan said that in his career, he always received partial pay when he worked on call.

“I wish this town absolutely no ill will, I don’t hate this town,” Farnan said. “It just was not a good fit.”

Kelly Lipsie asked why the town had gone through so many police chiefs in recent years, and Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman said the wrong people had been chosen. Now, she said, the current department employees seem to be a good group.

— To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com