Garfield commissioners fire county manager Ed Green
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – In a move aimed at reorganizing the way Garfield County government operates, county commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to fire county manager Ed Green, ending his nearly 14 years of service with the county.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Green said after the decision, adding he had no forewarning of the commissioners’ action prior to Tuesday.
“We had just finished contract negotiations about a month ago,” Green said of his contract renewal in November, at an annual salary of more than $133,000.
“At that time, the conclusion was positive that I would be here for the next few years,” he said.
The move came after the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) returned to public session from a closed-doors meeting called to discuss unspecified contract matters with county attorney Andrew Gorgey.
The decision to part ways with Green is in line with the board’s ongoing assessment of the county’s organizational structure, said County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who made the motion to terminate Green’s contract “without cause.”
“I do this not lightly, and want to acknowledge your services to the county,” he said to Green in making the motion. “The county has made great leaps and bounds under your direction, and I wish you success in the future.”
Jankovsky added in a follow-up interview, “I have a great deal of respect for the work he has done. … He brought Garfield County from being a mom-and-pop county to a professionally administered county.”
Green, 62, was placed on paid administrative leave for 30 days, in accordance with his contract agreement, although the termination was effective immediately.
He is also to receive an additional six months severance pay, plus continued health insurance coverage for that same period.
Gorgey was appointed interim county manager, at least until Feb. 29, when the board hopes to make some decisions about future county administration.
Whether that will involve an internal appointment or an outside search for a new county manager is unknown at this point, BOCC Chairman John Martin said.
“We would like to start making some decisions within the next 30 days,” he said.
Martin, the only one of the three current commissioners on the board when Green was hired in 1998, also had high praise for Green’s work.
But he, too, said the decision signals a change in direction for county government.
“We are in the process of making some changes in the county that we believe are in the best interests of the citizens,” he said after Tuesday’s decision. “The board does wish to be more involved in the decisions of the county.”
The county manager and county attorney are the only two county employees who report directly to the BOCC. Around the time the board renewed the contracts of both Green and Gorgey for 2012, they also requested regular meetings with the two as a way to have regular “supervisory” meeting with the two regarding county operations.
Green said one of those meetings occurred, and another one that was scheduled was canceled. He said he was given no indication that the board did not intend to retain him through the coming year.
“John [Martin] and I have had some disagreements over the last few months on some things, but I never thought it would get to this point,” he said, citing some differences of opinion over human resource and public works issues.
He also cited some differences of opinion regarding the recent budgeting process. In drafting the 2012 budget, the commissioners, at Jankovsky’s urging, engaged in a line-by-line review to arrive at a balanced budget.
“I didn’t think it was anything we couldn’t overcome,” Green said of any possible philosophical differences with the board.
“I do think the board wants to become more involved in the day-to-day activities and operations of the organization,” he said.
Though he is approaching retirement age, Green added that he would like to continue working for at least another five years.
“I’ll have to see what’s available here, or elsewhere,” the Rifle resident said.
Green is the second top-level official to leave Garfield County government in two years. Former longtime county attorney Don DeFord retired after 2010. Gorgey was hired as his replacement in May 2011.
“My role is to assist the commissioners in moving the county from point A to point B,” Gorgey said of his interim manager duties. “My early responsibility will be to help determine what point B is.”
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