Petitioners support Carbondale town manager
December 14, 2010
CARBONDALE – Several Carbondale residents are supporting town manager Tom Baker in the form of a petition to be presented to the town trustees this week as the board considers whether to renew Baker’s contract for another year.
The Carbondale Board of Trustees has met in numerous closed-door sessions in recent weeks for the purpose of discussing the annual contract renewal for the town manager, but has yet to reach a decision.
Another meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, again in executive session as is typical with town personnel matters. The scheduled two-hour session is noticed as a “special meeting,” so a decision could be made when the board returns to open session.
In the meantime, a petition letter has been circulating around town via e-mail groups and in hard copy form since late last week requesting people sign it in support of retaining Baker, who has served as the town manager for six years.
“We, the undersigned, support Tom Baker, Carbondale Town Manager,” the letter reads. “People feel comfortable around Tom, they can talk to him; he has demonstrated the ability to bring people together.
“Tom is a good manager and facilitator. The current strong financial condition of Carbondale speaks well of the Board of Trustees and Tom’s fiscal competence. We the people of Carbondale ask you to renew Tom Baker’s contract,” the letter concludes.
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One of the letter’s circulators, Will Evans, declined to comment further on the matter. A member of the town board who signed the petition, Frosty Merriott, also declined to comment further, in deference to the board’s process.
However, a former town trustee who was on the board when Baker was originally hired before stepping down in 2008, said he believes Baker has served Carbondale well and deserves to be retained.
“It seems some of the trustees haven’t done their homework to develop a knowledge of all the good that Tom Baker has done for the community,” ex-trustee Russ Criswell said. “We hope to demonstrate that with these signatures. He’s too good for the town to let him go at this time.”
Criswell referred to some of the points made in a separate letter that was distributed to e-mail recipients of longtime town activist Laurie Loeb, also in support of retaining Baker.
“Tom has been a very effective town manager for the six years he’s been with us,” Loeb noted. “Under his management the town has created the recreation center, Third Street Center, and continuing downtown improvements.”
She also noted in her e-mail that when Baker began his position with the town in 2004, he facilitated the Economic Development Roadmap process in the aftermath of the town’s rejection of the Crystal River Marketplace big box development.
And, with the town embarking on a two-year comprehensive plan update next year, she said Baker’s knowledge of the town’s land-use history and his facilitator skills will be helpful.
“Along with financial manager Nancy Barnett and the trustees, Tom has us in a very healthy fiscal position with more than $3 million in reserves, while many other area towns are struggling,” Loeb’s letter also pointed out, noting that Baker even took a 15 percent reduction in his salary this year while other town employees were also asked to take a pay cut.
Baker could not be reached for comment on this story, nor was Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot available for comment.