Steamboat Springs City Council continues to tweak city manager review process
Steamboat Springs — The process the Steamboat Springs City Council is using to review its top employee remains a work in progress despite the adoption of a new evaluation form.
And while it was being tweaked on the fly late Tuesday night, there was some confusion to overcome.
“We’re still just working on the process,” council President Bart Kounovsky said Wednesday following an awkward conclusion to what was supposed to be City Manager Deb Hinsvark’s regularly scheduled performance review.
The council made it clear that it wants to continue working with Hinsvark, but council members appear to still be wrestling with the best way to review their city manager each year.
Council member Sonja Macys wanted the process outlined and documented.
The review ultimately was continued to the council’s next meeting.
The council’s apparent disagreement about the review process spilled out of an executive session and into a public forum at about 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Hinsvark was put in an awkward position when the council ended the short executive session it called to perform the review before Hinsvark was called into the room to talk with the council.
It was an unusual step for the council that historically has conducted the performance reviews behind closed doors with their city manager present for some of the meeting.
Council member Scott Myller later would indicate that he thought the step was taken because the council already had exchanged written comments with Hinsvark in a new review format that has the council fill out a detailed form.
Upon the council’s return, Kounovsky spoke on behalf of the council and said it wants to keep working with Hinsvark, but he then made a proposal that set off a longer discussion.
“At our next meeting we would like to come together with you in a public forum and go through and have some recommendations for both some goals and improvements,” Kounovsky said.
Hinsvark asked the council to clarify whether this meant a review was going to be done in a public forum.
Kounovsky indicated it would not be a review, but a goal-setting session.
With some guidance from City Attorney Tony Lettunich, the council then debated whether that was in fact what would be occurring at the next meeting.
Council member Kenny Reisman said he thought the plan sounded more like a review than a goal-setting session.
Others chimed in and said they thought it would be more appropriate in an executive session.
The council ultimately decided to schedule another executive session Nov. 11 to meet with Hinsvark to complete the review.
It is up to the city manager to decide whether a performance evaluation takes place in executive session or in a public forum.
Hinsvark made it clear that she wanted a review to take place in executive session as reviews of city managers have regularly been done.
Hinsvark said she didn’t think there was a disagreement between her and the council.
Reisman agreed and said it was a disagreement among council members and the process they are using to evaluate the city manager.
This month marks the first time the council is using a new review process to evaluate the city manager.
Council members have filled out a lengthy evaluation form and exchanged comments with the city manager.
The city manager has done a self review.
A summary of the council’s review will be released to the public sometime after the conclusion of the next executive session scheduled for Nov. 11.
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