City of Aspen looking for a third communicator

Aspen City Hall.
Aspen Times file photo

The city of Aspen is adding a third position to its growing communications department, which until earlier this year had only one person in it.

The city recently posted the open position of communications specialist II, which commands a salary between $55,000 and $66,000, plus benefits.

It was an on-again, off-again full- and part-time position that was under the auspices of the Aspen Police Department. But now that it’s been vacated, the new person will work in City Hall under Tracy Trulove, who was hired as the municipal government’s director of communications this past spring.

“It’s putting a different lens on that role,” Trulove said, adding she jumped at the chance to bring another communicator into her department as part of the city’s grand plan to beef up communications and outreach with the public. “This is part of giving department heads more support, too.”

The new person will serve as the city’s public information officer and also have a specific focus on the police department.

That individual will join Mitzi Rapkin, communications manager, in the communications department.

With all three salaries in that department, the city is spending at least $260,000 annually on communications, which does not include benefits and additional costs associated with public outreach.

Recently hired City Manager Sara Ott said last fall when she was assistant city manager that a yearlong analysis on what the communications needs are within the organization determined it fell short on staffing.

The need for high-level communication goes beyond the city’s lack of communication with the public on numerous initiatives in the past year, which Aspen City Council has acknowledged is a problem.

“Instead of having one resource, we now have a group to rely on,” said Linda Consuegra, assistant police chief. “I’m excited about the position coming under the communications umbrella.”

Trulove said bringing the position into her department is a pilot initiative to see if the crossover and outreach can be done in a more cohesive way.

The new position is advertised as the city looking for someone who enjoys creating content that impacts the community; has the knack in developing public relations products and strategies; and increasing public awareness and participation in programs.

That comes in the form of creating literature, press releases, newsletters and media programs across all platforms, as well as coordinating media events and monitoring media articles, reports and broadcasts.

“May be asked to follow up with corrections, rebuttals and clarification as necessary,” the job description reads.

The new person also will assume the role of a public information officer during emergency incidents.