Aspen’s city manager likely to pursue employment contract
ASPEN – Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick said Thursday he will likely pursue securing an employment contract with the City Council before the end of the year.
Barwick had begun negotiating with the council last fall and spring, but those closed-door conversations ended before the May election. Anticipating that at least two new elected officials would take office in June, the then-seated council decided to delay negotiations with Barwick.
The lack of a contract this past spring became a campaign issue among the 13 candidates for mayor and council, and nearly all of them supported secure employment for Barwick.
“For all the things that weren’t decided in that election, this one was,” said Mayor Mick Ireland.
Barwick last year came under fire for how the city managed the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing development, which called into question whether government should be a developer.
Ireland said he supports a contract so Barwick, the public and the council are clear on what is expected from him, especially given how political and volatile the position can be. The city manager and the city attorney are the only positions in Aspen government that the council has the ability to hire and fire.
Barwick hasn’t had an employment contract throughout his 10-year tenure. It was brought up at the end of last year during Barwick’s performance evaluation, officials said. Employment contracts for governmental managers are standard in the industry.
A contract has been drawn up from previous negotiations, and Barwick said he’d likely bring that draft back to council. Discussions will be held in executive session, and once a contract is agreed upon, the council will vote on it in a public meeting.
Barwick said in the past that he has attempted to solidify a contract with previous councils, but the attempts never came to fruition either because not all elected officials agreed or he didn’t make it a priority.
Now it’s up to Barwick take the next step.
“It’s up to him to carry the ball,” Ireland said.
Barwick said he waited so that the council’s newest member, Derek Johnson, had time to work with him. The other council members have all worked with Barwick in the past.
Likely included in the contract will be what the terms are in the event that Barwick is terminated or leaves the position of his own volition.
Barwick earns about $170,000 annually. He became city manager in October 1999. Prior to that, he had been assistant city manager since 1993.
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