By Sandy Barnes
The Town Board selected Gary Suiter as interim Town administrator to temporarily replace Jim White at the Tuesday, July 14 meeting. Suiter and White are essentially switching positions. Suiter currently is interim town manager for Minturn where White will begin serving on a permanent basis the first of August.
A Town board subcommittee recommended Suiter to serve Berthoud for a period of 60 to 90 days while continuing to search for White’s replacement. According to a contract that Suiter has accepted, his weekly salary will be $2,540 for 32 hours of work. He will be compensated at a rate of $75 per hour for overtime. The Town also has agreed to provide lodging for Suiter and a vehicle for him to use for business purposes when he begins working in Berthoud Aug. 1.
Suiter has an extensive background in town government that includes working as city manager for Evans and Snowmass Village. “I want to assure you I’m qualified to do this job,” he told the Town board during his remarks at the meeting. “I feel like I’m a great fit here. I enjoy doing interim stints,” he added.
Trustee Michael Patrick asked Suiter if there were any possibility he would consider a permanent position as Berthoud’s Town administrator. Suiter said he would not be applying for the position. While responding to another question from Patrick about his primary duties in his interim role, Suiter said he would seek direction from the Board of Trustees. “I work for the board,” he said.
Trustee John Bauer asked Suiter about his experience with economic development while serving in other towns. Suiter replied that efforts in Snowmass Village were fairly successful, but that not much was accomplished in Evans. While in Telluride, events were planned, but they didn’t do much for the economy, he said. What he learned was that you can’t “event your way” to economic improvement, Suiter remarked.
While discussing the selection process for the interim and permanent town administrator, Trustee Glen Buckingham noted that resumes of all candidates are sent to the entire board for review. All board members are also invited to the interview candidates, he added. Town attorney Bruce Fickel handled the contract negotiations for Suiter’s position. The board made the decision to hire Suiter during an executive session at the July 14 meeting.
Trustee Dick Shepard said he appreciated the hard work of the subcommittee in selecting an interim administrator quickly, while adding that the transition period needed to be as short as possible.
After the agreement to hire Suiter was finalized, Patrick noted that the July 14 board meeting was White’s final one and commended the work he had done for Berthoud. “He deserves a lot of credit for this,” said Patrick. Buckingham also acknowledged White’s dedicated efforts while serving the community.