Paonia trustees unanimously approved termination of the town parks maintenance contract with Mikel Altenhofen, effective Dec. 31. Altenhofen was one year into a three-year, $41,928-per-year contract with the town to maintain and irrigate the town's four public parks, which total about 15 acres.
Mayor pro tem David Bradford, who also serves on town public works, utilities and facilities committee, said the town has "no other choice" but to terminate the contract. "This is a very, very difficult decision, at least for me," said Bradford. "Mr. Altenhofen has done a good job and worked hard in many areas... But the bottom line is that the decision is an economic issue. If we don't terminate this contract we have to cut something someplace else" in order to balance the 2018 budget.
Since 2010 Altenhofen has contracted annually to maintain parks and was the only one to submit bids in response to the town's requests for proposals. A three-year contract with Altenhofen was approved last December at the recommendation of the public works committee and town staff. The contract has a provision allowing either party to terminate the contract with a 30-day notice.
The town estimates it will save about $20,000 by doing the work in-house. According to a plan submitted by the public works department, to do everything required in Altenhofen's roughly three-and-a-half page contract will cost approximately $22,658 in staff time.
Town administrator Ken Knight said the town has most of the equipment it will need to complete all of the work previously done by Altenhofen, with the exception of a lawnmower, which the parks plan estimates will cost $12,000. When asked about maintaining the football field, Knight said that those costs are "basically in the plan."
"This is a work in progress," said Knight.