Granby budget axes downtown enhancement position, keeps board stipends
December 11, 2008
Taking a stab at a line item that amounts to about two-thirds the salary of an eliminated office position in Granby’s 2009 budget, citizen Jeff Rozean put his money where his mouth was Tuesday.
Upon challenging elected officials’ salaries ” a 2009 budget item that amounts to $45,600 ” Rozean, who is a former Granby mayor and trustee, unfolded a pre-written personal check for $3,760 and handed it to the town clerk.
According to his calculations, the amount equates to the fees he received while serving as a town steward in the late 1970s and as mayor, elected in 1992.
“In order to communicate clearly that I never served for the money, I am submitting a check this evening for reimbursement of that amount to the town,” said Rozean.
Finalizing this year’s budget has been a source of tribulation for Granby town officials.
Many citizens like Rozean, a town planning commissioner and business manager at the YMCA of the Rockies, and his wife Bonnie, a home-business owner, attended several budget workshops to try and sway the town to preserve the economic development director position, a 2009 budget casualty. The position accounted for $72,288 in salary and benefits.
“There is a fundamental flaw in the budget you are about to approve,” Rozean told the board. “It preserves a line item that benefits each of you personally while eliminating abruptly a position that several citizens have expressed concern over.
“I do not believe in my heart that any of you ran for the money,” he said.
Mayor Jynnifer Pierro was the sole board member to respond.
“Economic times have changed,” she said; the salaries give board members the financial opportunity to serve, especially during difficult economic times. The mayor gave a personal example of turning down a chance to substitute teach Monday morning in order to attend the Mayor Manager Commissioners Meeting in Kremmling.
“The salary often offsets work that I can’t do,” she said.
Addressing Rozean’s charge that town adoption of a budget that contains board salaries was a “conflict of interest,” Town Attorney Scott Krob clarified that by law, town boards do not set their own salaries but are set by a previous board. Budget approval of pre-set salaries is not a conflict of interest, he said.
Granby’s mayoral salary of $800 a month and trustee salaries of $500 a month originally were approved Jan. 10, 2006, making Granby’s elected officials the second highest paid of all towns in Grand County.
After the budget hearing and Rozean’s comments, the board adopted the 2009 budget.
Afterward, Pierro thanked downtown director Betsy Cook, whose economic development position was nixed in the adoption of the budget.
Pierro commended Cook for new Granby programs, official Main Street status and her work for the town.
The downtown programs budget is still intact, the town outlined in a budget memo.
“Those services will be performed by the town manager, board committees, town committees and other staff.”
“Let’s see that the promises that were made are upheld,” said Bonnie Rozean after the meeting, “that the (downtown) programs will continue without the position.”
Bonnie Rozean stepped up her involvement with downtown enhancement once Director Betsy Cook came on board, she said.
“I started coming to the meetings, and I came away excited every time,” she said. “Things started happening, and it became visible. People started utilizing downtown ” we had live music ” that’s never happened before, and I’ve lived here all my life. … She (Cook) was making things happen.”
Jeff Rozean said the town ignored budget workshop suggestions to make a “planned transition” of the position by creating a downtown district, which could pay for a downtown development director.
And town officials didn’t budge to adjust board salaries, he said. “There are a multitude of cuts, this one was highlighted, and they didn’t cut it.”
Reflecting back on when he received town stipends, Jeff Rozean admitted he didn’t mind the money. “But I did have, even then, I had issues with it because it just felt wrong.”
Now more than $3,000 lighter, Rozean continued, “So what is it that causes you to wake up one morning and say, you know what, I need to state my opinion and I need to do it forcefully? I don’t know exactly, but it felt like the right thing.”
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.