Suiter signs city manager contract
Steamboat Springs — It’s official.
Gary Suiter has signed on to help the Steamboat Springs City Council accomplish a long list of goals, ranging from restoring public trust to building a new police station to coming up with a long-term plan for the city’s historic ski hill.
Suiter signed the city manager contract Tuesday and said he is ready to hit the ground running.
Council members stood and applauded after Suiter removed the interim name tag from his placard at the dais.
“I’m really glad we reached this result with Gary, because I think he’s exactly the right fit for our community right now, and in many ways, he’s already fit in well with the community,” Council President Pro-Tem Jason Lacy said. “I’m looking forward to having a much smoother relationship with him and our community than we have had with some previous city managers.”
His appointment to the job had been expected for weeks, but Suiter held off on signing the contract until Tuesday, because he wanted to discuss some possible term changes with the council.
Suiter specifically sought to increase the amount of guaranteed severance pay in his contract from three months to six in the event the contract is terminated.
Suiter talked about the risks he faces as the new city manager, including elections, politics, growth and development dividing the community and the reality of stepping into a city manager’s office that has seen rapid turnover in recent years.
The city’s last three managers all departed after short, rocky tenures.
“Steamboat does not have a great history” with city managers, Suiter told the council.
Suiter praised the current council and said he does not expect to have to use the severance clause.
He said he would sign the contract regardless of whether the severance was increased.
The council stood firm with its original severance offer guarantee of three months pay, to be extended to six months pay only if Suiter is terminated up to six months following a council election.
Councilman Tony Connell said he would rather afford Suiter the opportunity to increase his pay through performance.
Other council members said the election clause in the severance conditions adequately protected Suiter and that the community had “calmed down” since the departures of the previous managers.
Councilman Scott Ford was the only council member who wanted to increase the severance pay to six months regardless of whether the termination occurred close to an election.
He said six month severance pay was common in other Colorado cities.
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