Margerum to leave city post
Aspen’s veteran city manager, Amy Margerum, announced to a gathering of city employees on Thursday that she will be leaving her post some time before Jan. 1, 2000.
Margerum, who has been city manager for almost exactly eight years, will be taking a job as a senior vice president at The Aspen Institute.
In making the move, Margerum follows the footsteps of former Aspen Mayor John Bennett, who now works as the vice president-Aspen for the Institute, although there is no indication Bennett had any influence on Margerum’s being offered the job.
The two will be in different departments – she in administration and finance, he in a position created last year as a liaison with the community of Aspen – and neither will be in a supervisory role over the other, Bennett said on Thursday.
Asked why she is leaving her $101,900-per-year job with the city, Margerum said, “I got offered another position that was too good to turn down.” Plus, she continued, “It’s been eight years, and it’s just time for me to look at new challenges.”
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Margerum’s salary at her new position was not announced. She said she received the job offer last week from Institute President Elmer Johnson. In a statement, Johnson said the position opened up when one of the Institute’s current vice presidents requested a change in assignments.
Margerum denied there is any truth to scuttlebutt around City Hall that her departure has something to do with the recent municipal election and the fractious makeup of the new City Council, which has developed a nasty 3-2 split on certain critical issues.
City Councilman Tony Hershey, one of two new councilmen elected in May, conceded that he and Margerum have differed “about things like buses and trains.” But, he continued, “I like Amy, I like her personally and I think she does a good job. She’s going to make more money and have more time with her son, and I’m happy for her.”
He said he believes her departure will be “disruptive” but predicted, “We’ll find someone to take her place.”
Mayor Rachel Richards, who has worked closely with Margerum for the past eight years, was out of town and could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Bennett, however, had a lot to say about Margerum. It was during Bennett’s first term as mayor, in 1991, that Margerum was promoted from planning director to city manager, after the council dismissed former City Manager Carol O’Dowd.
“She has been a terrific city manager,” Bennett said. “I could hardly imagine a better city manager. The part of me that is still very loyal to the city of Aspen regrets that she is leaving. But the part of me that now works for the Institute is overjoyed that she is coming here.”
He said Margerum “did a very, very good job at running a very large, very complex undertaking, namely, the city of Aspen.” She oversaw a broad range of departments, he said, including everything from an electric department and a hydroelectric generating dam, to parks and recreation agencies, a golf course to a police department, and the city’s large planning, zoning and building bureaucracy.
He said Margerum should be given “a large part of the credit” for pulling the city out of an ocean of red ink in the early 1990s and putting the municipal budget on sound financial footing.
He noted that, while most city managers in Colorado last “a couple of years,” Margerum “probably quadrupled the average” by sticking with the job so long.
“I’m excited,” Margerum said of her plans. “I’m sad to leave the city, there’s a lot I’d still like to work on and get accomplished here. But I feel like I’m leaving the city in real good shape.”
Margerum, who lives with her husband, Chuck, and their young son in a house in Aspen’s West End, first came to the area in 1989 after being hired by O’Dowd to work as the Aspen/Pitkin County planning director. Prior to that, she had worked in the planning department for Santa Barbara County in California. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California and a master’s degree from the University of Washington.
She said she is not sure when she will leave the city, although her new job starts on Jan. 1.
“I was hoping to have some time off between the two jobs,” she said with a laugh. But, she added, she will consult with the council about her departure date and about the search for her replacement.
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