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Gorgey leaves county job; severance at $75K

Andrew Gorgey
Staff Photo |

Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey and the county commissioners formally agreed Wednesday to part ways, ending Gorgey’s four-year tenure with the county, first as county attorney and for the past three years as county manager.

Gorgey’s last day with the county was Wednesday. A severance deal dated June 23 and formalized at the Wednesday meeting calls for Gorgey to continue to receive his full rate of pay for six months, amounting to $75,000. He will also continue to receive retirement and health benefits during that time.

Commissioners later named Deputy County Manager Kevin Batchelder to serve as acting county manager for the interim while they decide how to proceed with a search for a new county manager.

The commissioners and Gorgey shared cordial words before the commissioners voted unanimously to accept the “mutual separation” agreement. The agreement carries a stipulation: “Positive recommendation. Would rehire.”

“My thanks to you are unequivocal,” Gorgey told the commissioners and a gathering of county department heads and staff. “Most of the time these positions don’t end this way, with four people sitting here saying thanks … we should all be proud of that.”

Afterward, Gorgey declined to say who initiated the separation agreement but said he recognized over the “last couple of months” that it was time for him to move on.

“Anybody who has ever been employed and had that employee relationship realizes when that relationship is changing,” he said without elaborating. “I knew the best thing to do was for us to reach mutual terms.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky read a long list of accomplishments with which he credited Gorgey in part for helping to carry out.

Those included negotiating several property acquisitions and facilities improvements, working to pay down the county’s debt, facilitating several policy changes including revisions to the county’s land-use code, and steering the formation of the Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District, for which Gorgey will continue to serve as legal counsel for the time being.

LOVE OF COUNTY

“All of these things are a joint effort, involving the three county commissioners, the county manager and the department heads,” Jankovsky said.

In particular, the FMLD “has given us and the local communities a way to access grants for projects so those communities are not always coming to Garfield County for those funds,” Jankovsky said.

Commissioner Mike Samson praised Gorgey for his “workaholic” approach to his job, including pulling double duty for more than four months in early 2012.

“I have been impressed with how driven you are, and believe you have a true love of Garfield County,” Samson said. “Garfield County has been blessed because of your efforts.”

Added Commission Chairman John Martin, “It is a team effort, and we thank you very much.”

“We got a lot of things accomplished,” Martin said. “And I appreciate you putting up with this kind of dysfunctional family here, and being able to decipher our different ways of communicating.”

Gorgey said he will take some time off before seeing what county or municipal manager positions are available, adding he wouldn’t rule out a return to government legal work.

“I have really connected with a passion for public administration, leadership and management,” he said.

Gorgey said he will also continue to be involved with the Association of Colorado County Administrators, a group he helped to revamp in recent years.

MOVING FORWARD

Following their decision, commissioners also met with county department heads and reassured them that it’s business as usual under the interim arrangement with Batchelder.

The commissioners said they intend to develop a strategic plan over the next several weeks for future county management. Jankovsky said he personally hopes to begin conducting a search for a new county manager in August, and to have a new full-time manager on board by the first of the year.

Batchelder has been the deputy county manager since April 2014, and has 26 years of experience in public administration, including work in budgeting, capital improvement planning, asset management, revenue diversification and economic development.

“My first goal is to establish and maintain effective working relationships with all the elected officials, county staff and the public,” Batchelder said in a prepared statement. “We have a lot on our plate, but I am confident we can meet our goals and objectives.”

Batchelder holds “credentialed manager” certification from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). In 2014, he was recognized for 25 years of local government service as an ICMA member. He is also a member of the Colorado City/County Management Association and the Association of Colorado County Administrators.

“I am honored to be chosen for this important role,” he said, “and I will be working hard to support the board of commissioners, the elected officials and the management team.”


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