Aspen’s elected officials want to review city manager’s office in private
Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick’s job is in question as elected officials plan to meet behind closed doors tonight to review his performance.
Barwick’s annual review was moved up a couple of months amid personnel troubles in the City Manager’s Office and public criticism over initiatives that have come out of City Hall in the past year.
Councilman Adam Frisch said he asked Mayor Steve Skadron to put the performance review on the agenda now because it’s time for council to address the growing issues within city government.
“I think it’s time for the five of us to discuss it in executive session,” Frisch said, adding he has been vocal in his criticism about the city’s botched plans last year to turn Hopkins Avenue into a bikeway and one-way street, and again with a multimillion dollar mobility lab that’s supposed to roll out this summer.
Skadron said it’s been no secret that there have been problems in City Hall and with the resignation — which turned into a paid administrative leave — of Assistant City Manager Barry Crook last month, time is of the essence to get government back on track.
Crook erupted in rage after a public meeting Dec. 11, calling members of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority “mother—ing extortionists” when they requested that the program’s administrative costs be covered in a public-private partnership to develop 45 apartments.
A few days later, Crook resigned with no end date of employment set.
Complaints from city employees about Crook have been lodged, which forced Barwick to put Crook on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
That will end Tuesday, which will be Crook’s last day of work, Barwick confirmed Saturday.
Crook will receive whatever vacation and sick leave is remaining as his payout, per the city’s personnel manual.
If council decides to part ways with Barwick, he could be eligible for a severance of a year’s salary, according to an employment agreement inked in 2010.
Barwick, who has been city manager since 1999, did not have a contract until eight years ago. He was able to secure one to “make possible full work productivity by assuring Barwick’s morale and peace of mind with respect to future job security,” according to the agreement.
Council last March gave Barwick a 5 percent wage increase and a 1 percent bonus. At the time, he was making $195,236.
The agreement stipulates that if the city terminates Barwick’s employment he can receive 12 months of his salary, and it has to be paid within 20 days of his departure.
Crook, who purchased a house in the Water Place subdivision from the city in 2009 for $151,000, will have to sell it back to the government within six months.
That would likely be the case for Barwick’s house on Cemetery Lane, if council decides to end his employment. He has lived in the house since 1994 and purchased it in 1995 for $210,500.
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A proposed workforce housing project at the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District could turn a decommissioned facility into several apartments for employee use.