City Council approves city manager contract | SteamboatToday.com

City Council approves city manager contract

City Council approves city manager contract offer for Gary Suiter

Interim City Manager Gary Suiter speaks during his interview Friday with the Steamboat Springs City Council. A community panel that interviewed Suiter and three other finalists recommended Suiter for the job.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council has offered Gary Suiter a city manager contract that would pay him an annual base salary of $185,000 and give him a more generous severance package if his contract is ever terminated in the wake of a council election.

The new city manager will be required to live within Steamboat’s urban growth boundary.

The offer does not include a housing allowance.

“We can’t wait to start working with you and to change your name tag from interim city manager to city manager,” Councilwoman Heather Sloop said Tuesday before the council voted unanimously to approve the contract offer. “We have many steps ahead of us we want to keep climbing. I enjoy the fact you’ve given a great openness and a positive attitude to everyone on council.”

The council negotiated the contract through the course of two closed-door sessions and a series of private meetings between Suiter and two negotiating council members.

Suiter has five days to review the contract and consider signing it.

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He thanked the council for the offer and said he looked forward to a productive future in Steamboat.

Suiter took over as interim city manager in October during tumultuous times for the city.

The current council has credited him with righting the ship in the wake of an internal police investigation that ousted the city’s top two police officials and former City Manager Deb Hinsvark.

During the 75-minute interview with Suiter earlier this month, he gave council an idea of what his first 100 days as manager would look like.

He said he wanted to find a way to get City Hall back open Friday mornings and also look into making the city’s new human resources director a direct report to him, instead of to the General Services Department.

He also said — based on his time with the city’s management team — he didn’t see any need to undertake a major reorganization in City Hall.

"We have a great community, a great staff, and we have a great council," he said. "The future looks bright. Nobody is coming in and asking me to clean house."

Suiter is a management consultant who has spent numerous years managing cities in Colorado.

He previously served as the town manager in Snowmass Village, the city manager in Evans and the county administrator in Alamosa County.

According to the terms of Suiter’s proposed contract, he would receive a severance package worth three months of his gross salary were his contract to be terminated.

The severance package would increase to six months salary if the contract were terminated within the first six months following a city council election.

He will receive up to $10,000 for moving expenses.

How does Suiter’s salary offer compare to the city manager salary packages of other Colorado mountain resort communities?

Data the council used during its salary discussions offers some insight.

Factoring in housing allowances offered in other communities, Suiter will enjoy a salary and benefits package that appears comparable to what city and town managers make in Avon and Snowmass and less than what managers make in Vail and Aspen.

Suiter’s offer is higher than salaries paid to city managers in Frisco and Breckenridge.

The city manager in Aspen is paid a salary of $173,763 and is granted the use of a city-owned housing unit.

In Avon, the city manager is paid a salary of $159,159 and given a $30,000 annual housing allowance.

Vail’s town manager has a base salary of $180,000 and a $30,000 annual housing allowance.

Deb Hinsvark, Steamboat’s last city manager, was making a salary of $151,407, plus benefits.

At the time of his resignation, former City Manager Jon Roberts was making an annual salary of $153,000, plus a benefits package worth between $30,000 and $35,000 per year.

Steamboat Today reported in January that Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan earns an annual salary of $145,000.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Mountain town manager salaries

City/salary/housing allowance

Steamboat Springs (offered): $185,000, $0

Aspen: $173,763, use of city-owned housing unit

Avon: $159,159, $30,000/year

Breckenridge: $153,157, $0

Durango: $172,000, N/A

Frisco: $131,000, $9,000

Snowmass: $144,997, $30,000/year

Vail: $180,000, $30,000/year

— city of Steamboat Springs