Steamboat Springs City Council thinks its partnership with city manager needs improvement | SteamboatToday.com
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Steamboat Springs City Council thinks its partnership with city manager needs improvement

The Steamboat Springs City Council has scheduled an executive session for Feb. 24 to discuss the job performance of City Manager Deb Hinsvark. A strong majority of the council backed Hinsvark Tuesday night after two council members sought her resignation.
Scott Franz

How did the City Council grade the city manager?

The following scores are on a scale of 1 to 5, with lower scores being better. An overall score of 1 to 3 was classified "very satisfied" to "satisfied." Scores higher than a 3 were classified as "needs improvement." See the questions council answered to grade each category in the attached evaluation form.

Leadership and planning: 2.62

Fiscal management: 2.08

Staff management and development: 2.43

City operations: 2.18

Quality of city services: 2.67

City Manager and City Council partnership: 3.43

Communication, community education, public image: 2.82

Total: 2.6

In other action

• The council voted, 5-1, to approve the second and final reading of the 2015 budget. Council member Sonja Macys opposed the adopted budget. Before it was approved, council heard from some community members who were opposed to significant changes in the winter daytime bus service. Council moved forward with the changes. Look for a story about the adopted budget and the bus discussions in Thursday's Steamboat Today.

— Moments after she received a mixed performance review from the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night, City Manager Deb Hinsvark said she was up to the challenge of strengthening her partnership with her seven bosses.

The council made it clear that the partnership is in need of improvement.

The city manager, who has spent much of her career in finance, said she’s still learning the best way to do that, and it hasn’t always been easy.



In recent weeks, she said she has even talked to a retired city manager in Grand Junction for advice.

“We all agree I’m not there yet,” Hinsvark said. “My intention is to form a stronger relationship with the council, each member individually. I’m up for the challenge.”



For the first time, the City Council released a summary of an evaluation form on its top employee.

While Hinsvark received satisfactory grades in most categories, the results revealed the council is not satisfied with the partnership it currently has with Hinsvark.

On a 1 to 5 scale in which a lower score is better, the council collectively ranked its partnership with Hinsvark as a 3.43.

The grade falls into the council’s “needs improvement” category.

To evaluate the partnership with Hinsvark, each council member was asked to grade her on whether she is “an effective leadership partner with the council,” how well she “knows and adheres to the distinction between her role and that of the council” and how well she “provides unbiased information and raises relevant issues that help inform council discussions and decision making.”

In all of the other six major areas the council graded Hinsvark on, she scored somewhere between “satisfied” or “very satisfied.”

Individual scores from each of the seven council members on all topics are not being publicly released.

Hinsvark got high scores from the council on fiscal management and her management of day-to-day city operations.

Her scores on a “communication, community education and public image” criteria fell in the “satisfied” classification but edged close to “needs improvement.”

The overall council score on the entire review was a 2.6 out of 5, a score the council classified as “satisfactory.”

Council President Bart Kounovsky declined to discuss any of the specifics of the evaluation because it is a personnel matter, but he said the score on the council partnership “speaks for itself” and shows a need for improvement.

He praised the council’s use of the new 10-page evaluation form and its decision to start releasing a summary of the evaluation.

The new form of evaluation was spearheaded by council member Tony Connell.

“This gives us a baseline for the future, and that’s great,” Kounovsky said. “We’ve never had a tool like that before.”

The council had a bumpy ride as it adopted the new method of evaluating the city manager.

The release of Hinsvark’s performance results followed an odd two-part review of the city manager that was mostly conducted in executive, or closed session.

The discussions behind closed doors were in addition to written comments and scores from the council.

Council members appeared to not be on the same page as to how the review should be conducted, and the review ultimately was continued to Tuesday night after an executive session was conducted Oct. 28.

At that meeting, the council told Hinsvark it wanted to continue working with her.

In another sign the council is working to improve its partnership with Hinsvark, the council voted, 5-1, to schedule another executive session in six months to evaluate the performance of the city manager. Council member Kenny Reisman was absent Tuesday night.

Kounovsky opposed the motion, saying he thought an annual review was enough.

In December, Hinsvark will bring the council a list of goals she wants to accomplish in 2015.

Hinsvark said the city manager she talked to from Grand Junction said he spoke to his council members individually every week and was very persistent about it.

“I work for all seven council members,” Hinsvark said. “I know I can’t represent all of their individual interests. They have to create a consensus, but I have to help them.”

Hinsvark was promoted to city manager in March 2013 after serving as deputy city manager for almost two years.

Hinsavark joined the city in December 2009 and served as finance director.

Before Steamboat, she worked as the chief financial officer for the city of Kansas City and in high-level finance positions in Denver.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

How did the City Council grade the city manager?

The following scores are on a scale of 1 to 5, with lower scores being better. An overall score of 1 to 3 was classified “very satisfied” to “satisfied.” Scores higher than a 3 were classified as “needs improvement.” See the questions council answered to grade each category in the attached evaluation form.

Leadership and planning: 2.62

Fiscal management: 2.08

Staff management and development: 2.43

City operations: 2.18

Quality of city services: 2.67

City Manager and City Council partnership: 3.43

Communication, community education, public image: 2.82

Total: 2.6

In other action

• The council voted, 5-1, to approve the second and final reading of the 2015 budget. Council member Sonja Macys opposed the adopted budget. Before it was approved, council heard from some community members who were opposed to significant changes in the winter daytime bus service. Council moved forward with the changes. Look for a story about the adopted budget and the bus discussions in Thursday’s Steamboat Today.


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