The Paonia Town Council has been talking about the benefits of hiring a town manager for some time. While the reality is there is not any money in its budget, the town has been awarded a three-year $199,422 grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) which can help the town make this happen.
The proposed 2014 budget did not include salary and benefits for a town manager. However, Cindy Jones, finance officer, prepared two other budget scenarios with costs projected from 2014 to 2017. The first would include a town manager with a salary of $65,000 and the second scenario would have the salary at $75,000.
Mayor Neal Schwieterman noted, "With the downturn in our sales tax increase, it is a very, very, very tight budget [with] lots of cuts to things we have funded in the past."
The mayor added that the auditor and finance officer continue to find more improper entries or accounting errors from the previous finance officer. They are making adjustments to the Reserve Fund to correct the books.
Elyse Ackerman, Department of Local Affairs regional manager, spoke at a work session about the grant process. The grant request to help fund the town manager position was approved.
DOLA needs the Town of Paonia to project the costs for a town manager out for five years. This is so the town can evaluate the sustainability of adding a town manager.
"The idea behind this grant is to help you ease into the financial impact of bringing a town manager on. In theory, that town manager should help you find ways to make your whole organization financially sound. Not just for their position, but for overall. Our concern is that is happening before you get there," Ackerman said. "So that when you get to the end of the three-year grant you're not going, 'Oh no, we can't afford this.'"
Ackerman said that any candidate for the town manager position would have to realize that "this is a capacity-building position" and at the end of three years there has to be the level of fiscal planning so that having a town manager is something that can be sustained.
In year one, DOLA pays 75 percent of the costs of salary and benefits and the town 25 percent. Year two is equal between DOLA and the town at 50-50, and in year three the town pays 75 percent and DOLA 25 percent.
The grant is for a full-time town manager and not one who would be splitting duties such as a town manager and public works director.blog comments powered by Disqus