The town of Snowmass Village has spent less money than projected to pay Gary Suiter to act as town manager in 2014.
From January through May, the town has been paying Suiter an average of $15,391.25 a month, according to a report prepared by the town’s Finance Department. The Town Council voted in February to hire Suiter as a part-time consultant to fill the position for $17,250 a month, an agreement they entered because the officials were split, 3-2, on hiring Suiter full time.
At the council’s last regular meeting on May 21, the Town Council voted, 3-2, to have its finance director perform an analysis to show what Suiter’s compensation package would be if he were a full-time employee. Councilwoman Markey Butler made that motion, saying that there was confusion among residents about Suiter’s contract and that his salary, which some think is high, has become “a lightning rod.”
According to the Finance Department’s report, which was presented to the council on Monday, the town budgeted $140,158 for the town manager’s salary in 2014 as well as $70,265 for that individual’s benefits package.
If Suiter worked 138 hours every month, he would be compensated $207,000 annually, not including overtime and mileage reimbursement, which are included in his contract. As an independent contractor, Suiter does not receive benefits such as health insurance and a retirement plan.
Suiter’s current contract went into effect in February. From January through May, he has earned $79,120.96 for his contract employment with the town, having clocked less than 138 hours a month for three out of the five months. In April, he charged the town for 137.5 hours.
Suiter was acting as interim town manager from August through January. In 2013, he earned $78,082.83 for the five months he held that position.
The Finance Department made projections about how much Suiter’s compensation would cost through the end of the year. It assumed that the town would pay him the full $17,250 a month and estimated the mileage he would be reimbursed by using the average of the reports he’d submitted to the town.
Using those assumptions, the Finance Department estimated that the town would come in under budget on Suiter’s contract by $7,689 at the end of the year.
“The community is making a big deal about this salary,” Butler said on Monday. She added that there had been comments about his compensation in the newspapers, in columns and “in this room.” Butler was one of the three council members who voted to hire Suiter.
“I’m here to say I thought we would see a huge discrepancy between what a (full-time) person would be earning and what Mr. Suiter is earning without benefits,” Butler said. “I think we need to put that whole argument to rest.”
“It doesn’t seem to hold much,” said Mayor Bill Boineau, who also voted in favor of Suiter’s hire.
An outside consultant, who had conducted a study of the compensations for all the town’s employees, said earlier in the meeting that the market average salary for town managers was $147,960, plus some benefits not available to other positions such as housing, a car allowance, or additional contributions to retirement.
Eric Marburger, of ESM Consulting Services, compared the town’s pay structure to other resort municipalities in Colorado, as well as some private sector organizations, in conducting the study.
Councilman Chris Jacobson, who voted against hiring Suiter, and Councilman Fred Kucker, who voted for the contract, declined to comment. Councilman Jason Haber, who voted against Suiter’s hire, was absent.