Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh will have to wait a while longer to hear what the City Council thinks of his job performance.
Following an 75-minute executive session discussion of Bartosh’s responsibilities during the Cottonwood City Council meeting March 21, the council voted to delay action on Bartosh’s annual review and employment agreement.
“We had a robust conversation and no real clear direction emerged,” Mayor Timothy Elinski said.
“I move we table this and bring it back during a special meeting or the next regular council meeting to discuss it further with the appropriate documentation requested,” Councilwoman Kyla Allen said.
Elinksi asked for an elaboration on what documentation Allen meant.
“The last year’s and year’s before strategic initiatives …. to be addressed by Mr. Bartosh,” Allen said.
Allen’s motion was ap-proved 5-2, with Elinski and Councilwoman Deb Althouse voting against.
“So, what we’ll do then is bring back the strategic directives …. and use that as a benchmark for evaluating [Bartosh’s] performance,” Elinski said.
Elinski added that he sided against the motion because he felt the council was given information previously to allow it to move forward in a manner similar to that used to evaluate all contracted city employees — without a written evaluation form.
“I feel like we’re opening the door for having to meddle with the other contract employees negotiations and how we move forward with them … but we’ll handle it one by one,” Elinski said.
According to Elinski, Bartosh’s annual review is already two months late. Last year, Elinski added, the council under former Mayor Diane Joens delayed Bartosh’s review for nearly 10 months before finally conducting it in October.
The day after the council meeting, Elinski stated that the City Council is directly responsible for four contracted employees: The city manager, city magistrate, city clerk and city attorney, whose annual compensation amounts to approximately $760,000.
“[T]hese employees are the face of the city, representing the integrity of our organization and are responsible for the progress of the city based on implementation of your elected council’s policy,” Elinski said.
“In our council-manager form of government, we rely implicitly on these employees to follow through with our policy goals which are ultimately directed by you, our constituents.”
Elinski recently recommended to the council that it initiate a standard annual performance review process, including a written evaluation form, a self-evaluation form and a form by which direct employees can evaluate their superior. The forms Elinski provided, however, were deemed too lengthy.
As a result, for calendar year 2017 the council decided to go with the standard evaluation process in place for over a decade.
“Although the process I proposed is new to Cottonwood, it is not ground-breaking,” Elinski said. “The forms I presented to council were all found on the International City Manager Association’s website, and the review process is one they recommend.”
Due to the lack of formal evaluation material, Elinski said that he “felt unprepared to conduct as constructive evaluation” of Bartosh.
“Tuesday night’s evaluation process was unproductive, which concerns me because we have three more contract employees to review in a similar manner in the next six months,” Elinski said.
“I like to think that we are a small town with big goals and I see only positive results from conducting business in a manner similar to what one might expect from ‘larger cities’ …. I campaigned on setting our expectations higher and hope that with community support I can accomplish that.”