Basalt manager makes unusual request with his annual review
Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon has made a rare and unusual request for a government official to have a performance review in a public setting.
Scanlon asked the Town Council to debate his contract in an open session rather than the usual executive sessions, which are closed to press and public.
The council already held two closed sessions but didn’t reach a conclusion. Scanlon didn’t attend that meeting per standard policy.
Scanlon said he wants the review in public for a couple of reasons — to hopefully speed up the process and to debunk assumptions that there must be chasms between himself and the board because of the time the review is taking.
“There’s all this noise out there that drives me crazy,” he said.
Scanlon said he had no indication after the Dec. 8 and Jan. 5 council meeting that he wasn’t wanted back.
“They all came to me after the last meeting and said, ‘You have nothing to be worried about,’” he said.
Mayor Jacque Whitsitt declined Monday to speak about Scanlon’s review because it is a personnel matter. It doesn’t matter that the discussion is scheduled to be held in public, she said. Town officials still cannot discuss items in public prior to the meeting.
Last year, Scanlon’s review dragged into April. The town’s goal each year is to complete the town manager’s review in late December. It is scheduled for 30 minutes Tuesday night.
Scanlon was hired in December 2012 and given a three-year contract with annual reviews. He is currently paid $154,161 and is seeking an increase of $7,199 to $161,360. That is in line with salary increase ranges of between 3 to 7.5 percent that the council approved for department heads in November. Scanlon’s salary increase would be mid-range at 4.67 percent.
The proposed contract also calls for a $2,000-per-month housing allowance.
He also is seeking extension of severance pay to 18 months rather than the current one year, if he gets canned prior to Jan. 1, 2018. If he is still in the post on that date, the severance package will revert to eight months.
Scanlon said he is seeking the extension because Basalt faces extreme political volatility right now. The mayor’s position and three council seats are up for election. All are being contested, and some seated council members either are challenging Whitsitt or considering it.
In addition, land-use matters such as future uses of the Pan and Fork site have divided the community.
The election could change the philosophical makeup of the board, he said, and he could become a target.
Scanlon also is taking the unusual step of seeking a “hold harmless period” for department heads for an 18-month period ending Jan. 1, 2018. The wording would allow the town to fire a department head if they do something “wrong,” but it protects them if the council decides to clean house and replace him as manager. There is a possibility a new manager would want to pick new department heads.
Scanlon told the council in writing the proposed severance package for him and the hold harmless provision for department heads are “non-negotiable.” However, in an interview, Scanlon said Town Attorney Tom Smith has said the hold harmless provision cannot be done as part of Scanlon’s contract.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the council chambers at Town Hall.
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