Steamboat Springs city manager search ends with promotion of Deb Hinsvark
March 5, 2013
Steamboat Springs — By promoting Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark on Tuesday night, the Steamboat Springs City Council ended what likely is to be remembered as one of the shortest and least costly searches to fill the top job at City Hall.
The council voted, 4-2, to offer Hinsvark a new contract that will make her the city’s permanent city manager.
Council members who were 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.
"I’m supremely impressed by Deb’s work ethic and how she’s working for us and the citizens," council President Bart Kounovsky said before the council voted to offer Hinsvark a new contract later this month that will remove the interim label from her title. "I’m also impressed by Deb’s growth over the last four months as the interim city manager."
Several council members said the interim title has been holding back Hinsvark and the city.
"The interim title isn’t a confidence builder. It doesn’t move us forward. It doesn’t move this community forward," council member Walter Magill said. “I want us to get off the stopgap and get going in the right direction.”
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Hinsvark’s promotion was opposed by council members Sonja Macys and Cari Hermacinski. Council member Kevin Kaminski was absent for the vote.
Macys argued the council should conduct a job interview with Hinsvark before offering her the permanent position.
Council member Kenny Reisman countered that Hinsvark’s three-year tenure with the city — during which she has served as finance director, deputy city manager and now interim city manager — is "the best job interview someone can have."
Macys also thought that Hinsvark would be a stronger city manager if she had to go through a competitive application process to get the job.
"As much respect as I have for the people who are saying Deb is doing a great job, that’s not enough for me," Macys said. "I want to know what the great accomplishments are."
Hermacinski 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 a new contract for Hinsvark.
Hinsvark’s promotion officially will end the search for a permanent city manager that never took off after the council passed on an opportunity to pay a search firm to help find candidates.
The council was leery of starting a search before an election in November in which four of its seats are at stake, and it questioned whether the city would get any strong candidates at this time.
Last month, Magill proposed that the council offer Hinsvark a one-year contract for the job. But that proposal became Tuesday night’s promotion after City Attorney Tony Lettunich informed Magill the city’s charter does not allow the council to set a term for the city manager’s contract. Instead, Lettunich said the council can outline only how often the manager’s performance is evaluated.
City managers serve at the pleasure of the city council that has the ability to hire and fire them.
Hinsvark, who has served in the interim role since former City Manager Jon Roberts resigned in October, is expected to sign her new contract at the March 19 council meeting.
Asked by the council how long she thinks she wants to lead the city, Hinsvark replied she was looking forward to tackling the goals of the council and could see herself here for at least the next five years.
After the council voted to negotiatie a new contract, Hinsvark said she wasn’t seeking a pay increase to go along with the new title.
In December, the council amended Hinsvark’s employment contract to give her an additional $1,000 per month in pay for the added responsibilities of the interim position.
Hinsvark’s current salary is $145,407, which is about $8,000 less than what Roberts’ salary was at the time of his resignation.
Hinsvark said she looks forward to continuing to lead the city.
"I am committed to this community, and I’ll continue to be," she said.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com