In Avon, town manager trouble goes back to 2016
AVON — The meeting lasted 5 minutes.
On Thursday, May 31, the Avon Town Council voted in favor of terminating Town Manager Virginia Egger.
Egger was an at-will employee, and council members do not have a legal obligation to explain their reasoning in letting her go. Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Smith Hymes made the motion to terminate “without cause.”
Prior to that motion being made, the council had met in closed session to discuss Egger’s annual performance review.
“After careful consideration of many aspects related to the town manager, I believe the time has come for a change in management for the town of Avon, and that such change would be in the best interest of the Avon community,” Mayor Jennie Fancher said.
A press release issued by the town of Avon said “The Avon Town Council has determined that a change in town management is best for the community at this time.”
Egger tendered a resignation, effective July 18, but the Town Council preferred immediate resignation, which Egger declined.
As per her performance agreement, the town will provide Egger four months severance pay. Egger’s annual salary was $174,760.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Smith Hymes’ motion was not the first time a motion to terminate Egger had been made at public meeting.
Wolf’s frustrations with the town manager stemmed from the WinterWonderGrass Festival’s departure from Avon in September of 2016, and the events leading up to that departure.
Wolf had asked Egger in a public meeting what went wrong in the negotiations between her and WinterWonderGrass Festival founder Scotty Stoughton, asking Egger if she had offered Stoughton cash and in-kind services. She told him that she had offered both.
In a later meeting, also public, Stoughton said that he had not been offered any cash, just in-kind services.
Wolf then responded in November with the surprise motion to terminate Egger, which was seconded by council member Matt Gennett. It failed by a vote of 5-2.
Thursday’s vote was 7-0, leaving many to ask what has happened between November of 2016 and May of 2018 to change the opinions of the rest of the council.
In a memo to the Town Council in January, Egger told council members that a potential development by Colorado World Resorts should be kept confidential.
The rezoning application for Colorado World Resorts’ property was not confidential, and Egger’s suggestion that it was reflected poorly on her.
“What this demonstrates is a willful lack of transparency, honesty and accountability,” Gennett wrote in an email. “It is highly unethical and simply unlawful to withhold public information, which is what we are being told to do.”
At a meeting in March, council member Amy Phillips said the town manager’s behavior was disrespectful.
The statement was made in reference to a suggestion by Egger that the effort to restore the historic Hahnewald barn should be brought before voters.
“I am 100 percent against us allowing our town manager to push us forward in a manner that does not work for this town and disrespects the fact that I have made this statement numerous times, and I’m done with it and tired of it,” Phillips said.
In April, local trail builder Matt Thompson with Momentum Trail Concepts contacted the Vail Daily to describe a strained relationship with Egger.
Momentum Trail Concepts built the iconic Lee’s Way Down trail in the West Avon Preserve and had been booked out by Avon to construct more trails in town both last fall and again this spring.
Avon was never able to secure the right to build the trails Thompson had scheduled his time for, and he was not compensated for that time, which he said was his own fault for giving Avon the rights to terminate the contract.
Nevertheless, “I’ve never been treated so unprofessionally; I’ve never been disrespected this way by any client,” he said of Egger.
On Tuesday, June 5, Avon’s Ad Hoc Special Events Committee met in their regular monthly meeting.
Longtime Avon employee Scott Wright, who was named interim town manager on Thursday, told the group that his focus is putting the best face forward for the town.
Avon has a number of special events coming up, including the CoverRock music festival on June 22-23, the Vail Valley Brew Fest on June 30 and the Salute to the USA Independence Day eve festival on July 3.
“Virginia was very much involved in special events, and I, quite frankly, haven’t been,” Wright said. “We are working with the HR director and we are going to do whatever is necessary to support our events this season.”
With a pitched battle brewing in the state legislature over his signature “public option” health insurance bill (HB19-1004) from last session, state Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, is urging calm before the coming storm.