Eagle Board holds firm to town manager hiring plan
EAGLE — The Eagle Town Board has approved a $5,000 contract with Chris Moffet, a Vail-based consultant who has worked with Eagle County and who was called in to assist the town board with their final evaluation of former Town Manager Jon Stavney, to coordinate the search for the town’s new manager.
That search has already begun, with applicants facing a Friday deadline to submit their applications. Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick and Town Board members Anne McKibbin, Doug Seabury and Sarah Baker volunteered to participate with the hiring committee.
According to the process approved by the town board, initial candidate screening will be conducted by Moffet’s team and Eagle Town Clerk and Interim Town Manager Jenny Rakow. Moffet said she will contact each board member to learn about what characteristics they individually value most in a prospective manager and from there she will develop interview questions. She will also create a rating form to use as part of the interview process.
Moffet said her team will conduct a minimum of three reference calls and a full background check before making a job offer. The timeline calls for interviews to begin the week of Jan. 26, final candidates will be identified by Feb. 20, references and background checks will be done the week of Feb. 23 and a job offer will made by March 6. The town board anticipates that the new manager will begin work by March 16.
During this week’s town board meeting, Eagle Chamber of Commerce President Mick Daly proposed including representatives from the business community and the community at large in the interview process. Additionally, resident Melanie Richmond, who has extensive human resources experience, offered to help with the interview process. Town board members briefly discussed the offers, but noted that candidate confidentiality concerns would likely limit the town’s ability to involve outsiders in the process.
In addition to the assistance offers, the town board also heard criticism about the process.
“My concern is that I don’t think it is the best for the town to be in a rush to find a town manager. I don’t think it’s best for the citizens,” said resident Cindy Callicrate. “And with the new board coming, it could all start over again. I am concerned qualified people won’t put their names in the hat.”
A short contract
The issue of a possibly short tenure for a new manager was explained to the town board this week.
“I thought when we hired the previous town manager, he had a contract,” said Mayor Yuri Kostick. “If we move through this process and hire someone, they would come with a contract. The last contract was for two years.”
“I have heard some concerns and criticism that if this board hires someone, that person could be fired at the first meeting (after the April 5 election). I don’t understand that. Why wouldn’t we hire someone with a two-year contract?” said Kostick.
Because the board can’t, according to state law.
Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands noted that because Eagle is a statutory town, the board must appoint its town officers — manager, clerk, treasurer and attorney — within 30 days of the election of a new town board. That does not preclude the town board from offering a contract to a new manager prior to the election, but it will be a very short contract. And, as Sands noted, the new board in April could also object to any severance package offers made by the current board.
“What would preclude us from doing a longer contract?” Kostick asked.
“Because state law states that the new board gets to pick the town manager,” Sands said. “The office automatically becomes vacant with the election of the new board.”
McKibbin noted that any town manager candidate serves at the will of the current board and that any candidates who apply for the job will be aware of that.
“If we get to the point of making an offer, that will be communicated to the manager candidates,” said McKibbin.