Mt. CB looking for new legal counsel

Community Development Department also needs help

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

The Mt. Crested Butte town council has several staff openings and is making moves to at least fill them temporarily. During their January 3 meeting, the council approved processes for hiring both a temporary town attorney and a planning service firm to help the Community Development Department. 

Before the holidays, town attorney Kathy Fogo submitted her resignation to the town. “As we are currently working without legal counsel, I feel it is imperative that we find temporary counsel until permanent legal counsel is hired as soon as possible,” town manager Carlos Velado told the council. “Given the time sensitivity of this, we’ve already started working on reaching out to various attorneys who might be willing and able who specialize in municipal government law.” He noted that four or five people have expressed interest in the temporary short-term position. 

Velado explained that the town attorney is hired by the town council, but suggested he work with one of the council members to review applications for temporary counsel and prepare a candidate hire recommendation to the full council for consideration. “This allows staff to do the groundwork to present to you the qualifications,” he said. “We just want to make sure we’re asking the right questions and hopefully streamline the process.”

Velado noted that every item on the evening’s agenda had been reviewed by Fogo prior to her departure.

Mayor Nicholas Kempin volunteered to work with Velado to find a town attorney for the interim, “based on the understanding it’s temporary and will keep us in business for the near term. The larger process will include all of you to decide that next person longer term,” he told his fellow council members. “I would want and expect input from all of you and it will be something we take lots of time on to pick the right person.”

Velado also said with recent staff changes in the Community Development Department, the town will need to hire an outside planning service as soon as possible to review and process current land use applications. Velado was the community development director prior to the council appointing him as the new town manager on January 3, and deputy community development director Hillary Seminick took a planning director position with the county. The town council is not required to hire this position/service and Velado requested authorization to hire a qualified firm to provide temporary planning services until the Community Development Department is adequately staffed. Velado said the town will look to hire the director position first, followed by a planner or two. 

“Is it possible that we’re going to go through a search for a firm, hire this firm, it takes them a month to come up to speed and then a month later we have a town planner in place?” asked council member Roman Kolodziej. “How much overlap should we expect? How much meaningful work will get done?”

“I think we’ll get a lot of meaningful work done,” said Velado. “We’re already struggling with the current staff we have to get things in process. It is what these firms do. It gets us closer to North Village, Prospect, etc.”

Seminick also noted, “I am committed to make sure North Village has a clean hand-off.”

The council agreed to direct town staff to hire a planning service on an interim basis, as well as appointed mayor Kempin to work with Velado on the process of hiring a temporary town attorney. Velado said the goal is to have a selection made for a temporary town attorney for the town council’s authorization at the January 17 meeting.

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