New Town Board gets down to business
Oak Creek — In the town of Oak Creek these days, breaking up is hard to do and harder to mend.
Oak Creek Town Manager Ray Leibensperger would like to resign, but for now, he cannot legally quit his position at Town Hall.
Jo Dee Stordal, the former assistant town treasurer who resigned in February because she said she could no longer work for Leibensperger, would like her job back, but some town officials are reluctant about the town giving her the position a second time.
One person who does know her status at Town Hall is Oak Creek’s new mayor.
Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman took the gavel from ousted Mayor Deb VanGundy Thursday evening, along with five new and returning trustees.
In the first board meeting of her term, she faced a full agenda that included Leibensperger’s resignation and Stordal’s request for reinstatement.
The old Town Board approved the town manager’s new contract Feb. 28. He submitted his letter of resignation March 12. The Town Board’s deadline for accepting or rejecting that resignation comes today.
When she talked to Leibensperger late Wednesday afternoon, Rodeman said, he told her his resignation was spurred by the concerns of old board members who considered him a liability to their chances of re-election.
“They (the board members) thought he was the major bone of contention,” she said of her conversation with Leibensperger.
At the time of their conversation, she said, she understood he was still a town employee.
He told her his resignation was up to the board, she said.
VanGundy signed Leibensperger’s new contract Tuesday and accepted his resignation Thursday. But his resignation remains a moot point, Rodeman said, because a quorum of the town board was not present Thursday to accept it.
She learned from the Colorado Municipal League “undeniably, that they (the Town Board) cannot accept or reject that resignation without a quorum.”
So for now, she said, “the town manager’s resignation has not been legally tendered.”
She said she had assumed the board would vote to either accept his resignation or accept his new contract Thursday evening.
Leibensperger was not present at the meeting.
Trustee Mike Kien reminded the board that today is the day Leibensperger set as the day he would leave.
“It doesn’t matter if we’ve accepted it or not,” Kien said. “By (today), he resigns of his own free will.”
Leibensperger wrote in a memo to the board that he would be willing to stick around a few months to assist the town.
The Town Board tabled action on Leibensperger’s resignation until it could receive legal counsel on the matter.
The board allowed Stordal to return to her old position for four days next week to take care of the town’s bookkeeping, but her future with the town after next week is not so clear.
Trustee Bill Paxton said Stordal should not be allowed to return to her old position.
“She made her decision to quit,” Paxton said. “To come back now, no.”
After her resignation, Stordal volunteered to lend her expertise to the town free of charge.
Regardless of the board’s decision to reinstate her, she said, she wanted the board to make sure the town put its financial affairs in order.
“You may send me on my way,” she said. “But I want the records of this town to be kept accurately.”
Some trustees and people in the audience suggested the town look for other possible candidates to fill the position of assistant town treasurer.
The people who came to see the new mayor and Town Board get down to business spilled out to the narrow hallway of Town Hall.
Some came out of curiosity.
Others came expecting to see a difference.
“There are some things in need of a change,” Oak Creek resident Emily Enger said.
This was Enger’s first board meeting since she moved to Routt County in 1989.
She avoided previous board meetings because she cares little for politics, she said.
Thursday’s agenda, however, appealed to Enger.
She said she intends to return for a few more meetings but expects public participation will likely dwindle as people feel they can trust the new board with the town’s business.
Several people in the crowded room offered suggestions to their new representatives.
David Bonfiglio, a business owner in Oak Creek, reminded board members they stood at a crossroads. They could choose to get down to business or get sidetracked again by their differences, he said.
“If we come at it in an adverse way, we’ll spend all our time fighting,” Bonfiglio said.
VanGundy left the last board meeting of her term as subdued as the manner in which she called the formality to order.
After saying goodbye and wishing the best to the new board, she quietly exited the crowded board room with brass nameplate in hand.
It was a small reminder, whether pleasant or unpleasant, of the office she held for four years.
“I earned it,” she said.
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