Interim administrator a former familiar face around Silt
SILT, Colorado – Newly appointed interim town administrator Davis Farrar is no stranger to Silt happenings, having served in that same capacity for the town about 10 years ago.
Farrar, who works as a freelance planning consultant through his Carbondale home-based business Western Slope Consulting, was a contract planner for the town of Silt from 1996 until 2000.
During that time, the town chose not to renew the contract for the town administrator, and Farrar was asked to also assume duties as interim town administrator. He continued in that capacity until a new full-time administrator was hired.
A similar scenario played out at the April 26 Silt Board of Trustees meeting when a slate of new town trustees were sworn in, and the board voted 5-2 not to renew the contract of town administrator Betsy Suerth.
Part of that same vote was to appoint Farrar as interim town administrator on a contract basis, at a rate of $95 an hour for up to 30 hours a week.
“I am looking at a part-time schedule, probably in the range of 15 to 20 hours a week, but I haven’t had that conversation with the board yet,” said Farrar, whose first meeting with the board will be May 10.
“I imagine my primary responsibility will be to keep Silt going in the right direction, keeping staff on task, and representing the interests of the community and the board,” he said.
One of the new Silt trustees, Rick Aluise, who was appointed mayor pro-tem by the board, said the board will need to determine specific duties and a timeline for how long Farrar will remain under contract.
If and when a new staff administrator will be hired will also be the subject of further discussions by the board, he said.
“The motion authorized up to 30 hours per week [for Farrar], but it is unlikely he will incur that many hours,” said Aluise, a former Silt town administrator himself.
Aluise’s motion and the subsequent board vote to dismiss Suerth and contract with Farrar also included direction to seek applications for a new town administrator.
However, “The board will need to determine those issues,” he said.
Aluise was part of the “Save Our Silt (SOS)” slate that won election to the town board in the April 6 election. He was sworn in at the April 26 meeting along with new trustees Bryan Fleming and Paul Taylor, as well as mayor Dave Moore, who was re-elected to the mayor’s seat over challenger and former trustee Meredith Robinson.
Among the new board’s first actions was to dismiss Suerth and town attorney Gene Duran. The board also voted to prepare legal documents to eliminate the community development director position now held by Gale Carmoney, as well as the planning technician position, and to implement a town government hiring freeze.
Some questions arose around whether pre-arranged deals had been made with Farrar, as well as with Glenwood attorney Walt Brown, who was contracted to handle the town’s legal affairs in the interim, prior to decisions being made at the April 26 meeting.
Aluise defended the board’s actions, saying the slate ran on a platform of cutting Silt town spending and moving in a different direction administratively, plans he said were outlined during the campaign.
“Political parties do exactly the same thing every election year,” Aluise said. “The Republicans ran on a ‘Contract with America’ in 1994, promising specific actions. In the last national election, the Democrats ran on a platform that promised many specific actions, including health care reform.
“We were not members of boards making ‘deals,'” he said. “We were candidates promising delivery on our platform.”
Aluise also defended the anticipated elimination of Carmoney’s position, a board move that will be handled by formal resolution at the May 10 meeting.
“The town can easily contract any planning needs should development return to the valley,” Aluise said. “All costs would then be borne by the development rather than paid by the taxpayer. Since there currently is no development, the taxpayer is bearing an unnecessary cost.”
It’s also possible that Farrar, who has a planning background as well, could also be asked to oversee any town planning needs in the interim.
“Since Mr. Farrar is both an accomplished administrator and planner, he could easily handle any planning issues, should they arise,” Aluise said.
Following his previous stint as Silt planner/administrator, Farrar was also contracted to help the town deal with issues related to the Stillwater Ranch development. That project has since been de-annexed from the town after the developers failed to obtain financing to proceed.
Farrar also currently works as the contract town planner for New Castle.
He recently worked for about a year and a half as town administrator in Debeque on a contract basis. Farrar was the full-time staff town manager for Carbondale in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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