Hot SheetThe Front Range

Monument trustees likely mired in 3-3 stalemate through summer

Author: Rachel Riley, The Gazette - May 22, 2018 - Updated: May 22, 2018

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A sign outside the town of Monument, Colo. (Courtesty of townofmonument.org)

MONUMENT — The Monument Board of Trustees, which abruptly canceled two meetings last week after half of its members didn’t show, could be stuck in a 3-3 stalemate for most of the summer if its members can’t choose a trustee to fill the vacant seventh seat.

The board also failed to reappoint three key staff members by the state deadline, and it now has until June 15 to select a trustee to replace Don Wilson, who was elected mayor in the April 3 election.

Monday night, a motion to appoint one of three trustee candidates failed with three “no” votes by Trustees Jeffrey Bornstein, Greg Coopman and Laurie Clark – who also voted against reappointing the town’s attorney, clerk and treasurer on May 7. The rejected trustee candidate is Jim Romanello.

Wilson and Trustees Kelly Elliott and Ron Stephens voted in favor of Romanello.

Also seeking the position are Laura Kronick and Kenneth Kimple. A candidate who lost a bid for a seat April 3 withdrew his request to be considered, Elliott said.

Wilson beat Bornstein for the mayor’s seat April 3. Elliott was reelected to the board, and newcomers Clark and Stephens were elected.

If the board can’t choose a seventh trustee by June 15, it would have to hold a special election at a cost of at least $11,000. The new trustee likely wouldn’t be sworn in until late August, said Interim Town Manager Pamela Smith.

Smith, who until recently was town treasurer, and Town Attorney Alicia Corley and Clerk Laura Hogan still face uncertainty since the board didn’t reappoint them.

Wilson scheduled a special meeting to do so May 14. After Bornstein, Clark and Coopman failed to show, he set another one for Wednesday. But again, the three did not attend.

The meetings were to let the board get legal advice from the town’s insurer, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, about the ramifications of not reappointing the staff members, Wilson had said.

The board also was to have voted again on the reappointments – this time one at a time, so the three trustees could specify which appointments they did not want.

“We also had the hope that somebody would actually come and try to address the problem as opposed to ignoring it,” Wilson said at Monday’s meeting.

He has said he doesn’t know of any problems with the staff members in limbo.

The opposing trustees have cited dissatisfaction with an investigation of the town manager, who was placed on paid administrative leave in February.

By email, Clark said the town attorney gave her “misleading information,” and the treasurer failed to answer her questions about expenditures.

Before last Wednesday’s meeting, Coopman emailed the town clerk, saying he would not attend because he didn’t support “a special meeting that gives the appearance of impropriety with the sole intent of readdressing and revoting on an issue that has already been closed.”

He echoed that sentiment Monday night.

“We need to look at how the board is going to go forward and move this community forward in terms of filling these open appointments,” Coopman said. “We can’t keep having the same conversation. There was a vote taken. There were individuals that were not reappointed.”

He said he was disappointed that the mayor let people speak after Wednesday’s special meeting was closed, allowing “members of this board to attack members who were not present.”

Bornstein said Monday he felt he was being coerced to vote for the reappointments.

“Nobody is going to tell me how I have to vote,” he said. “Right now, I feel like my back is against the wall. I’m being told, ‘Vote X or else.'”

Smith still is acting town manager because the board chose her after the town manager was placed on leave. Smith said she opted to place Hogan and Corley on administrative leave because they would no longer have governmental immunity and could be held personally liable if any legal troubles arose while they were fulfilling their duties.

“You have open appointments. But you also have employees that have not been fired,” Smith told the board Monday. “Therein lies the legal conundrum.”

The staffers likely won’t know if they have jobs for at least two more weeks. Trustees asked that an executive session be held June 4 to discuss their options with the town’s human resources director and its insurer.

The town also will discuss results of the investigation into Town Manager Chris Lowe.

Police Chief Jacob Shirk’s official complaint against Lowe led the board to put him on leave. Details of that complaint have not been released.

Shirk initially was placed on paid leave too but since has been reinstated.

Rachel Riley, The Gazette

Rachel Riley, The Gazette