City Council reviews Jim True, Steve Barwick in closed meeting |

City Council reviews Jim True, Steve Barwick in closed meeting

The Aspen City Council recently conducted performance reviews for City Manager Steve Barwick and City Attorney Jim True during a closed meeting in which True received a 4 percent pay increase.

Barwick, who according to city spokeswoman Mitzi Rapikin has established a personal policy not to ask for or accept raises from the council, did not receive any increase. True’s salary will increase from $153,400 annually to $159,536, while Barwick’s annual salary will remain at $173,763. Rapkin said Barwick implemented his personal policy in 2009 during the onset of the recession.

True’s last performance evaluation was in 2013, which also resulted in a 4 percent increase, and Barwick’s last merit-based raised was in 2008. Both True and Barwick, as well as the rest of city staff, received 2 percent pay increases in 2011, following a two-year pay freeze, according to Rapkin.

Colorado Open Records law allows that personnel matters be conducted in executive session, unless the individual requests that the meeting be public, according to True. True said the city of Aspen has historically conducted performance reviews in private, and that the point of an executive session is to allow for frank discussion.

“It’s just going to be more frank (than in a public setting),” True said Tuesday. “Executive sessions are a normal way, I think, of the way personnel matters are discussed. I think it’s logical to do it that way. If you really want to say what’s on your mind, you’re going to be more frank in a private meeting.”

The council conducted the reviews April 13 following a regularly scheduled meeting. Councilman Adam Frisch said the five elected officials discussed the reviews in private, as well as with True and Barwick. Frisch said the city attorney gets a “big thumbs up” from him personally.

“He’s doing a great job. He’s always available,” Frisch said. “He’s always accessible to us as well as to all the citizens.”

He said the city manager is a tougher position to evaluate, because when a mistake is made, it’s not always clear how far up the organizational ladder responsibility falls. As far as finance and budgeting, Frisch said Barwick should be commended.

Moving forward, Frisch said he hopes the city will review the city manager and attorney annually.

“The city attorney and the city manager — there’s no reason they shouldn’t be on an annual review,” Frisch said. “When I was an employee, I certainly wanted one for my own sake.”

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