WP Manager Denies Raiding Local Talent Pool
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
Will the third time become the charm for the town of Green Mountain Falls in its lengthy search for a head municipal boss?
Last week, a quest that has experienced its share of bumps in the road may have hit a patch of smooth terrain as GMF officials announced a finalist for the town manager position. Karen Gerrity, the current administrator for Nederland, Colorado in the southwest corner of Boulder County, is the sole finalist for the position that has become the talk of the town for months.
She was picked, following recent preliminary interviews with four other top candidates.
According to a GMF press release, Gerrity’s experience there (in Nederland) is “relevant to Green Mountain Falls’ current and long-term leadership needs. In addition to the proven local government knowledge she brings to the table, other specific skills Gerry has emphasized include grant writing/management, as well as finance, human resources, community development, project management, strategic planning and community engagement experience.” Town officials say that prior to her current role in Nederland, Gerrity led various non-profit organizations.
She will be introduced to the community on Tuesday, May 28 during a reception scheduled at the town hall at 5 p.m. This follows a day-long tour of the town, capped by meetings with the staff and interviews with the trustees, and an overview of the community’s comprehensive plan project.
The trustees will then meet behind closed doors and discuss a possible offer for the position. Mayor Jane Newberry stated that the town has not yet hired a new town manager, but has selected what the trustees believe is a superb finalist candidate.
Hopefully, the final result will have a better ending than GMF’s previous meet and greet manager session. On April 30, the town appeared to approach the “ninth inning” of a lengthy search for a town manager and publicly announced two finalists. These were Emily Katsimpalis, the assistant town administrator for Buena Vista; and Kyle Coleman, the assistant manager for the village of Estero, Florida in the southwest part of the state.
The two finalists were well-received by local residents and town leaders and encountered an earful regarding such issues as road conditions, short-term rentals, special events and infrastructure challenges. They both had their assets, with Coleman gaining praise for his knowledge and expertise in handling public works matters and Katsimpalis receiving laurels for her Colorado roots and work in key tourist areas.
But for various reasons, final deals could not be secured with either of the finalists.
Did Woodland Park Steal Away a Possible GMF Town Manager?
The rejection decision by Katsimpalis has raised more questions, as she recently accepted a lucrative position as the director of finance for the city of Woodland Park. She will start her new job with Woodland Park on June 24.
Due to her ties in Colorado, she was regarded by insiders as the front-runner for the GMF manager spot.
TMJ News has recently received concerns about whether the city of Woodland Park may have possibly raided the managerial pool of GMF, actions that represent a breaching of professional ethics. In other words, did Woodland use inside information to hire a top recruit away from GMF. Or, maybe it just comes down to a case of bad timing.
Woodland Park City Manager Darrin Tangeman was a member of a committee, formed by Interim GMF Town Manager Jason Wells, to review the applications submitted for the GMF job, in an attempt to narrow the field.
But Tangeman, in a phone interview late last week, stressed that no effort was made to snag Katimpalis away from the GMF town manager slot. “I am very sensitive about things like this. We want to have good relations with Green Mountain Falls,” said Tangeman
Tangeman said he actually was hoping Katsimpalis would take the GMF town manager job. “I have known Emily for a number of years and have been a mentor to her. I have always believed that she would be a good city manager.”
According to the Woodland Park city boss, WP officials did not offer or approach Katsimpalis about the head finance director position until she turned down the Green Mountain Falls job offer. Woodland Park recently lost their head finance chief, Mike Farina, who took another job in the Castle Pines area. And filling jobs like this are difficult in today’s municipal market in Colorado.
When she rejected the GMF town manager spot, Tangeman thought Katimpalis would be a good fit for the finance director slot.
GMF leaders haven’t really commented on the situation that has stirred some questions in local municipal circles. Some just attribute the latest turn of events to bad timing. “For whatever reason, it just didn’t work out,” said Newberry, in discussing the latest rejection of the GMF town manager contract.
Coleman, the other finalist, also rejected the GMF town manager job.
GMF has been searching for a head boss since February. And for the last year and a half, the town has operated with a part-time, interim manager, under the reign of Wells. Wells was the former city administrator for Manitou Springs. He originally was only hired for a several month contract.
But his arrangement with GMF got extended due to considerable staff turnover and as a result of the floods of last summer.
One possible hurdle in GMF, according to sources, is the lack of guaranteed funding for the position. The state has partially funded the position for several years through a DOLA grant. But this money expires in the middle of next year, meaning the town will have to foot the bill for a permanent town manager position.
Views are somewhat mixed about the position, with some locals questioning the need for a town manager and want to invest more monies into road improvements, instead. Also, the town’s previous experiment in selecting a full-time town manager ended on a failing note, when town leaders parted ways with Verla Bruner, GMF’s first permanent town boss, after only six months on the job. Bruner is now the town clerk of Palmer Lake.
Regardless, GMF leaders still want to move full-speed ahead in pursuing a town manager style of government.