Aspen housing board finds itself in a holding pattern after director’s departure
Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board member Carson Schmitz questioned on Wednesday during a public meeting what the point is of serving on a volunteer board if it has no say in the agency’s executive director’s employment.
He made his comments after some questions he had for City Manager Sara Ott regarding the circumstances in which she asked for former APCHA executive director Mike Kosdrosky’s resignation more than two weeks ago.
“This is a volunteer board and we’re focused on policy and if we don’t have any say in a disruptive decision such as the departure of the executive director who is responsible for implementing all the policy that we determine, then we can’t control our own efficacy and it really calls into question the need for this board,” he said. “I don’t understand the need for a board if an unelected official’s opinion so easily trumps the desires of this board. … The residents of APCHA and Pitkin County, maybe they are happy with an unelected city official holding this much power over their housing but I doubt it.”
City Councilwoman Rachel Richards, who serves on the APCHA board as an alternate, countered by saying it’s not appropriate as a matter of policy to interfere with personnel decisions.
APCHA is a department of the city, so its staff members are employees of the municipal government and an intergovernmental agreement states that the agency’s executive director reports to the city manager.
Ott said during Wednesday’s APCHA board meeting that she couldn’t divulge why Kosdrosky left his post after five years because it’s a personnel matter, other than to say, “I have encouraged Mike to do what was best for his career and this is the path he chose.”
Kosdrosky was given a severance agreement July 30 and he officially resigned on Aug. 12. He will receive $43,000 in severance pay.
As reported by The Aspen Times in Wednesday’s edition, Kosdrosky had for more than a year been requesting a significant wage increase to be more on par with his counterparts around the state, who make an average of $159,000 a year, according to an outside salary survey that the city commissioned in the past couple of years.
Kosdroksy’s annual salary was $108,500.
It is unknown what pay grade the new executive director will be hired at, what the search will entail, or what the status is of Home Trek, a digitizing of APCHA’s antiquated paper system that Kosdrosky had been championing.
Repeated messages to new Assistant City Manager Diane Foster have gone unreturned.
However, Ott told the board Wednesday that the city plans to send a survey to board members and key staff asking them what they want in an APCHA executive director.
“That will be the first blush that we take to understand how aligned or unaligned are these operational stakeholders and what the leadership profile should look like for this position,” she said.
Foster, who is serving as APCHA’s interim executive director, told the board that she plans to meet with each board member individually and will dedicate 90% of her 60-hour work week to the agency for the next four months.
“I really want to hear your interests and priorities,” she said.
APCHA board member David Laughren said while the agency is going through turmoil he has faith it will work itself out.
“I think we’re going to be just fine and APCHA will be stronger as a result of this,” he said.
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