OURAY – For the first time ever, Ouray residents will have a chance in early 2014 to participate in Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli’s annual performance evaluation.
In the past, input was solicited only from city department heads and council members. But this year, Mayor Pam Larson requested that members of the public be permitted to weigh in as well.
Public input forms are available online on the City of Ouray’s website, and hard copies are available at the City Hall. Comments must be made anonymously.
City Attorney Kathryn Sellars is charged with overseeing Rondinelli’s performance evaluation process. She recommended that public comments be limited to first-hand personal interactions.
As Sellars stated in a memo to council, “It is our opinion that if Council would like to include public comment as part of the evaluation process, those comments need context and limitation.”
Sellars proposed that she filter public comments and only pass on to council those that meet the standard or “first-hand personal interactions.”
“If it is hearsay or not a personal experience they will be eliminated from the process,” Sellars proposed. “We are looking for one on one, personal knowledge with the city administrator. That’s important. If you want public comment, that is the kind you are seeking. Our advice is not to get public comment.”
Council, however, bristled at Sellars’ proposal.
Councilor John Ferguson argued that people in the community “can have a judgement” of Rondinelli’s performance without having had direct contact or interaction with him.
“What you think is hearsay we may not,” he said. “I would think we can make that decision.”
Councilor Michael Underwood concurred. “I don’t see harm in letting people voice their opinion,” he said.
Council will begin soliciting public comments immediately. The evaluation process will begin during the second council meeting in January, and conclude at the first council meeting in February. Discussion will take place in executive session, as is the case for all city personnel matters, unless otherwise requested by Rondinelli.
The evaluation process must be completed by Feb. 9, the anniversary of Rondinelli’s hiring date. The evaluation will focus on how effectively the administrator is accomplishing the goals established by council and how he is carrying out his responsibilities in key performance areas.
CITY ATTORNEY CONTRACT AMENDMENT
The Ouray Council unanimously approved amending the city’s contract for city attorney services with the Masters and Sellars law firm from a set hourly rate to a flat monthly rate. The firm will now get paid a flat fee of $6,000 per month for standard services including general counsel, land use matters, water issues, standard court services and meeting attendance, but will also retain the option to bill at an hourly rate of $180 per hour on top of that for certain services including litigation beyond the normal scope of attorney services for the city.
City Attorney Kathryn Sellars said that being paid a flat fee allows her to “be present in more places” to thoroughly represent the legal interests of the city, such as the Gunnison Basin Roundtable and other regional meetings pertaining to water issues, in particular .
PHASE 2 GEOTHERMAL PROJECT
Council revisited the topic of Phase II of the Box Canon Geothermal Water Line project, agreeing to pursue a scaled-down, cheaper version of the project than that which was originally called for in preliminary plans prepared by Merritt Engineering several years ago.
Council will hold a work session with Public Works Director Dennis Erickson in early January to discuss new parameters for the project, before scheduling a meeting with Merritt Engineers to discuss designing a new plan. Councilors Michael Underwood and Richard Kersen will act as liaisons in the process, and Ouray resident John Nixon, whose residence borders a portion of the water line project along Canyon Creek, will also participate in the meetings.
“I want to work with you on this, and understand your need to do work back there but we need to talk before you draw up more plans and try to ram it down my throat,” Nixon said.
The project is funded in the City of Ouray’s 2014 budget. The preliminary timeline calls for construction to begin in October 2014 and conclude in February 2015. The project proposes replacing a portion of the aging, partially exposed pipeline that delivers geothermal spring water from its emanation point in Box Canyon to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.
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