Baker ready to leave Basalt government | AspenTimes.com
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Baker ready to leave Basalt government

Basalt Town Manager Tom Baker is taking a page out of former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway’s book and stepping down at the top of his game.

Baker confirmed yesterday that he has “informally” announced his resignation to the Basalt Town Council.

The surprise announcement comes just two months after Baker was named Colorado’s “outstanding public administrator of 2003” by the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver, and the Colorado Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha. The town government threw a big party at Bistro Basalt in Baker’s honor when he won the award.

Baker said he wasn’t fired and he isn’t leaving on bad terms. The exact timing of his departure is yet to be worked out, he said, although he wants to help with the transition of a new manager.

Baker declined further comment on his decision. He said he will release a statement after the Nov. 4 election, which includes a contentious debate on a proposal for a new midvalley library.

The connection between the election and the timing of his statement wasn’t apparent, and Baker didn’t shed light on the mystery. Baker is a member of a committee opposing the library proposal. Historically he has been acutely careful to avoid political issues outside of town government.

Basalt town government hired Baker as its top administrator in January 1999. Friends said Baker never intended to stay in the position for a long time. He has continued to work as a consultant on government and public policy issues.

Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens said the council would like to see Baker stay but his decision to leave wasn’t a surprise.

“We anticipated it,” Stevens said. “We knew he would be leaving sooner rather than later.”

The mayor compared Baker’s situation to an athlete leaving after a fantastic achievement. “We were kind of joking about it – it’s good to quit while you’re ahead.”

Stevens confirmed that there were no problems in the relations between Baker and the Town Council. He praised the condition that Baker has helped create in the town government, noting that the budget, growth controls and various community endeavors are in good shape.

Because of that, Stevens expects there to be high interest in the position. “The person’s not going to be inheriting a whole lot of problems,” he said.

Stevens anticipates it will take “a couple of months” to find a replacement for Baker. He said Baker himself might be asked to serve on a committee searching for a new manager. He didn’t know when that search will begin.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]


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