Rifle finalizes Nichols departure, brings in Farrar for interim manager
Rifle City Council has finalized a severance deal with former City Manager Jim Nichols, who was released last week by the city under a mutual separation agreement after just three months on the job.
City Council agreed after a special meeting Wednesday night to pay Nichols three months’ compensation, or $36,000, based on his contract salary of $144,000. Nichols will also receive three months’ of COBRA insurance coverage.
Nichols had signed on for a two-and-a-half-year term with the city in November of last year following an extensive search to replace former manager Matt Sturgeon. The city is launching yet another search for a permanent replacement.
Specific reasons for the city’s separation with Nichols were not made public when the announcement was made last week. Mayor Barbara Clifton said she was limited because it is a personnel matter, but that there was a realization on both sides that it was not a good fit.
“We have to move forward,” she said at the time.
Nichols came to Rifle from Douglas County, Nevada, where he worked as county manager for a little over a year from September 2014 until January 2016. He also was dismissed from that job under a mutual separation agreement with Douglas County commissioners.
According to a Jan. 21, 2016 article in the Gardnerville, Nev. Record-Courier, Nichols was to receive $115,346 in severance, which amounted to six months salary plus accrued medical and vacation.
Prior to taking the Rifle job, Nichols had been a teacher in China for a year and a half. He was also a finalist for the Glenwood Springs city manager job in 2016, before Debra Figueroa was selected to become the Glenwood manager.
Also Wednesday, the Rifle council elected to bring in longtime area government administrator Davis Farrar as interim city manager.
Farrar was previously hired to serve as interim city manager for Rifle from September 5, 2017 through December 1, 2017, and helped in the search to find Nichols. He will help coordinate the search for a new city manager. Planning Director Nathan Lindquist was appointed to interim assistant city manager.
Rifle had spent several months last year searching for a new city manager after Sturgeon left to become the city manager of the Denver suburb of Centennial. He had been Rifle’s city manager from May 2013 to May 2017.
Former Rifle assistant manager Kimberly Bullen then became Rifle’s interim city manager for several months before she accepted a job to be the Colorado northwest manager for the state Department of Local Affairs. Following Bullen’s departure, the city hired Farrar to help with the transition. Farrar has decades of experience working in the area, including working as town manager of Carbondale and as interim manager for Basalt and Silt.