Some Steamboat Springs City Council members at odds with city manager
August 6, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council will review City Manager Jon Roberts’ contract Tuesday night, with a couple of council members expressing concerns about his job performance.
The discussion appears poised to divide members of the council.
On Monday, two council members publicly expressed support for Roberts while three declined to comment when asked if they have confidence in their city’s top employee.
Council last reviewed Roberts’ performance May 1 during an executive session.
Roberts said Monday that he was surprised late last week when he learned that another performance review was pending Tuesday.
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"I’m in a wait-and-see mode," Roberts said. "I guess on (Tuesday) night I’ll find out what this is all about."
Roberts described his most recent review from the council as a positive one.
"Essentially they indicated they were satisfied with my performance," he said. "They wanted me to focus on restructuring the (Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District), but there was nothing that came out of that meeting that I would say was a serious concern council had about my performance."
Roberts said he thinks he has an "excellent" relationship with the current council.
Roberts’ contract review was added to the public portion of Tuesday’s meeting agenda at the request of council member Walter Magill.
Magill acknowledged Monday that he has concerns about Roberts’ leadership, but he declined to elaborate or to cite any specific grievances against the city manager.
"He’s helped us a lot with finance stuff, but I’d like to see a little more of the next-step stuff," Magill said. "Jon’s been city manager for (three years). We want to talk about the leadership of the city and where we’re going as a city."
Council members Kevin Kaminski and Sonja Macys also said Monday they have concerns about Roberts’ leadership of the city, but each declined to comment when asked if they had confidence in him as city manager.
Kaminski said the meeting would prove to be a "really interesting evening."
Macys, in her first term on the council, has sparred publicly with Roberts at recent meetings.
Near the end of the July 17 council meeting, Macys chastised Roberts for using the word “Obamacare” to describe President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Macys labeled the word "inflammatory political rhetoric," and she also accused Roberts of exaggerating how much more money the city has had to spend on health insurance as a result of health care reform under Obama.
Roberts denied both charges and said he stands by his comments.
Macys also has criticized Roberts in recent months for his handling of the city’s push for pay raises for its employees as well as for his efforts to have 500 acre-feet of the city’s emergency water reserve moved from Stagecoach Reservoir to Lake Catamount.
"I’ve been very clear about my concerns. I’m not the person who will sit on something and stay quiet," Macys said Monday. "I’m going to bring it up and say ‘Can we do something different?’ … If a change is to be made, we’ll see. But the idea here is that we’re all looking for the best possible outcome for the city with all of our actions."
Council President Bart Kounovsky and council member Scott Myller defended Roberts on Monday while council members Kenny Reisman and Cari Hermacinski declined to comment on the upcoming review. When asked if he had confidence in Roberts as city manager, Reisman also declined to comment.
Kounovsky, however, was quick to defend the city manager.
"I have full confidence in Mr. Roberts and I’m extremely pleased with what he has done in the last three years as leader of our city," he said.
Myller said he was disappointed to see the review added to the agenda.
“I think our review (of Roberts) in May was fine," he said. "I think he has helped us be a lean government machine during these tough economic times."
The review of Roberts’ contract is scheduled as a public agenda item, but council attorney Tony Lettunich said personnel discussions are held in executive session. An executive session to discuss personnel is the first item on Tuesday’s agenda. However, any council action taken on the city manager must take place during the public portion of the meeting.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com