A tale of two decisions…

Within 18 hours from 7 o’clock Monday night to noon Tuesday, I was struck with two major community decisions. One was really good. One was questionable.
First… Great decision by Crested Butte Mountain Resort to join the season ski pass reality and actually lower the price of a season’s pass to $599. Given the low cost of season passes and amount of terrain included at rival resorts in the West (the Epic Pass, for example), having one of the highest season pass prices in Colorado benefitted no one. This move will definitely assist locals, can hopefully result in more such passes being sold so that the ski resort sees a new financial benefit, and might help second homeowners and regular visitors who see a value in visiting more often and spending more time and money in the community.
It’s not perfect (teenage ski pricing has been raised, for example) but it is a positive major shift in thinking. This pass pricing should draw back some of the people who have felt priced out of the lift-served skiing and those who spent money on a snowmobile for backcountry instead of a ride on the High Lift.
The only way all this works is if people buy them. And given a radical change in thinking and a newly affordable pass, it’s up to everyone to validate this move with your wallet.
 Kudos to the resort for being bold and making a good decision.

Now on to the not so great decision…
As I left the special Town Council meeting Monday night, a few council members asked not if but how I was going to “bash them” about the decision to hire an out-of-stater for the town manager job instead of one of the locals. There’s no need to “bash” them, but I will question their decision. First, I give them kudos for running what appeared to be a good selection process and finally making a decision. But…
I have very publicly stated that I believe in the hiring of a local for any high-profile, well-paid job in the valley if there is a qualified candidate in the running. I believe we had two. So apparently did the council, since both made the final four. Now making full disclosure, one of them, Scott Truex, is a close friend and business partner but I objectively think he or Jake Jones could rise to the challenge of running the town. Both are solid, smart individuals who are rooted in this community with families, real estate and history. It’s the history part that might have been their undoing in the eyes of the council. Jones might be perceived as not having enough history and Truex might have too much.
But the movie the council has chosen to watch has played before. The last two Crested Butte town managers were out-of-town hires with good interview skills. While I liked each personally, neither will go into the Crested Butte town manager hall of fame. The radio station learned its lesson this past summer when the first two general manager hires were both gone in a Crested Butte minute. The chamber of commerce has seen out-of-towners last just months. Bringing people in for high-profile positions in a small town can be risky business.
Yeah, hiring a local will make some people mad if it’s not the local they want. I’m sure Jake has a soccer mom or two not pleased with a decision he’s made. I’m sure a few folks resent Scott’s role in some RTA decisions made in the past seven years. Given what looked like a pretty thorough interview process, any of the finalists should have the skills to perform the job. Any of the finalists should be able to work with the staff, the council, the citizens and business community. So the reason to go out of town and bring in the hired gun is to…what? Unless the out-of-towner is truly the messiah who is heads and shoulders above the rest, I just don’t really get it. Interview skills matter but that’s the sales job. It’s just a matter of time before the new guy starts to show his warts as well and get somebody mad at him. That’s part of the job.
Granted, Mr. Crossett had the most municipal town management experience (three years) of any of the final candidates. That’s certainly a plus. Todd is leaving his current position under fire from a split commission and is actually suing the town over some disputed retirement funds. Honestly, to me that throws up a red flag. I’m sure that was explained to our council and they must be comfortable with the situation, but it shows some warts.
There is no disrespect meant to Crossett when I publicly state many people here, including myself, would have preferred a local candidate. That’s reality. The other reality is that people here will give him a fair shake. Do a good job and people will appreciate it. Step in a pile of spring poo and people will let you know. When I met Crossett at the meet-and-greet during part of the interview process he seemed a nice guy. Smart and informed. He likes to ski. I have no doubt he will be able to handle the job. From what I’ve read online, he has the respect of the city staff and I am sure that will carry over to here. He appears to have a bit of “green” in him and can handle tumultuous situations. He is not afraid to take a stand. Those are useful attributes for Crested Butte.
I just hope the council’s decision to hit play on a similar movie that the town has seen before comes with a different ending. I’m sure Crossett does too.

So it’s not often that two big decisions that impact the community come at the same time. Hey, it’s off-season and it gives us something to talk about besides the weather.

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