by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — During a special meeting on Friday, February 10 at City Hall, the Trinidad City Council voted 7-0 to choose current utilities director Mike Valentine as interim city manager.
The specifics of the resignation of the previous city manager Gabe Engeland haven’t been released to the press, but the unstated reasons have caused a division within the city council, with some council members publicly criticizing other council members on Facebook, though the posts were removed quickly by the posters. Engeland’s resignation will be effective in March 2017.
Valentine was asked by mayor Phil Rico to approach the city council and state whether he would accept the position of interim city manager.
“I’m honored for the faith and trust you place in me. Yes, I will accept it, only because of the staff we have and their support,” Valentine said.
Valentine has served Trinidad for 28 years. In addition to his role as utilities director, Valentine has also served as the city’s public works director. Currently Valentine oversees approximately 50 employees and a total budget of $19.7 million.
In addition to the appointment of the interim city manager, the city council decided how it plans to proceed with a search to hire Trinidad’s next city manager. A number of requests to search firms have already been sent out in an effort to conduct a national search. Only three firms responded to the request. All three were below the $30,000 threshold which marks the top end of costs that can be negotiated by the city manager before city council has to vote on the expenditure. One was significantly below that mark.
The Austin Peters Group was awarded the bid for a total of $14,778 with a 7-0 vote of the council.
The two other bids were submitted by Strategic Government Resources and Peckham and McKenney Executive Search. Both of these bids came in at $27,000.
Factors that figured into the nearly 50% differences in the bids were: Austin Peters is located in Colorado, decreasing travel cost. There are no “add-ons” that would drive the “not to exceed” cost up, and the city negotiated to have design of the profile brochure to be done in-house, according to an email from Anna Mitchell, the assistant to the city manager.
They should have the search for candidates for a new city manager to city council well within the 180-day limit set by city council for the time to be served by the interim city manager.
If the search for a new city manager goes past the 180 mark, the time Valentine serves can be extended by a vote of the city council.
Engeland said as long as he was in Trinidad he would support and help Valentine.
The city council went into executive session at 6:07 pm, to discuss pending litigation.