Woodland Park Leaders Praise City Manager; Grant Pay Raise

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Photo by CR Chambers

by Rick Langenberg:

 

The Woodland Park City Council praised the head government boss for his job performance and gave him extra cash to further boost his annual $114,000-plus annual salary.

The council, with little hesitation, granted City Manager David Buttery a 3 percent salary hike, a pay raise they estimated at lower than that of the average city worker, based on a percentage level.

But more importantly, several council members praised Buttery for his job performance. Buttery has served as the city manager since 2008, and in 2011 he was granted a four-year contract. The tone of the public salary and job discussion marked a big change from several years ago, when former council member Betty Clark-Wine, the current county assessor, raised many concerns about Buttery’s salary level and contract.

At the time, she objected to the length of the contract and a total compensation that she contended didn’t mesh with the town’s economic realities. “That is pretty hefty for a community of our size,” said Clark-Wine, in complaining about the total compensation package awarded in 2011 that she estimated at more than $120,000 a year.

But the majority of council members have had no problems with the salary of the city manager.

During last week’s meeting, little mention was made of his actual salary and other details in the contract. Instead, most council members strongly complimented Buttery, who previously worked as the city’s public works director. In fact, Buttery became the first person from within the Woodland Park government ranks to receive the city manager job.

In previous years, the city hired managers from outside the area. For example, Buttery’s predecessor, Mark Fitzgerald, who served as city manager for about seven and a half years, came from Wisconsin; and a previous manager, Don Howell, hailed from the Gulf Shores, Alabama region.

“We are very fortunate we have someone who is very dedicated to our community,” said Mayor Dave Turley. “He is basically on duty 24 hours a day. It is something you don’t get in many cities. He is dedicated to the staff and the citizens.”

“He is a tremendous leader,” said Mayor Pro Tem Eric Smith. And in dealing with many municipal governments in Colorado, Smith said the work of Buttery and his staff is unrivaled.

Several other council members echoed similar sentiments.

According to a government salary survey done by TMJ last summer, Buttery receives an annual salary of $114,525, plus benefits.

In the last week, The Mountain Jackpot (TMJ) has received a few complaints regarding a pay increase for the city manager due to his overall salary. Some critics say government administrators in this area shouldn’t be paid salaries they compare to resort towns.

In discussing this issue in a later interview, Turley conceded that Buttery is well-paid, but stressed that he earns his money. “He makes a lot of money, but he does a great job for the city,” said the mayor.

The mayor also noted that Buttery’s salary is comparable to managers of other cities of a similar size. According to Turley, the council looked at this pretty closely when they developed a four-year contract for Buttery.

Turley also says Buttery has definitely progressed well in his role as city manager.

In other news, the idea of a future aquatic center on property near the Woodland Park High School could be dead.

Buttery reported problems with this site, which is located in an area adjacent to Gateway Elementary. The council previously gave Buttery the informal go-ahead to proceed with talks with the Woodland Park RE-2 School District for a free site that could accommodate the project and allow the city to partner more with the school district.

The $7 million-plus aquatic center venture is still in search of a home. The council previously opted not to locate the facility at Memorial Park.