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Paonia extends administrator contract to June

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Paonia administrator Ken Knight's contract has been extended to June 11 to allow the board of trustees to respond to his annual performance review. The extension allows the board to put specific goals and objectives identified in his review into place prior to renewing the contract.

Knight has been the town administrator since January, 2017. Under the 2019 budget, Knight's total annual wages are $80,000.13. With taxes and benefits, his total compensation is $101,665.06.

During two public work sessions held prior to the April board meetings, trustees discussed a list of 16 performance objectives that came out of Knight's evaluation. That evaluation was conducted in executive session at Knight's request.

The board distilled the 16 points down to four general areas, with associated and "fairly specific goals" Knight must achieve, explained Mayor Charles Stewart. At the April 26 board meeting trustees unanimously adopted each of the four goals individually. Prior to the end of the contract extension, "The board will need to make a decision whether to renew the contract," said Stewart.

The goals and objectives were approved as follows:

1. Water systems: evaluate water system to include additional storage options and potential grant options for storage; present best practices prospectus for water system improvements.

2. Planning: Work with the town intern to update the town's 1996 Comprehensive Plan and present to the board by November; create master plan for growth and the Space to Create initiative; develop a streets and drainage master plan, with the Clark Avenue as a priority; and explore and present options for traffic flow in the 300 block of Clark Avenue, with emphasis on one-way with egress on Minnesota Avenue.

3. Financial: Work with town finance officer to provide the board with financial reports to the board in a timely fashion; Develop a plan to support key employee positions and present to the board within three months. (Trustees voted on each specific goal individually.)

4. Communication: Work on communication skills with an emphasis on collaborative public relations and conflict resolution and a focus on reducing reactivity.

Now that the goals and objectives are in place, said Stewart, they will be incorporated into Knights contract once it is renewed.

The communication goal is the result of complaints about Knight's ability to maintain composure during interactions with the public and comments he has made on social media. Knight said he has no issues with the specific language of the goal.

Trustee Dave Knutson, who serves on the town Governmental Affairs and Public Safety Committee, said the first goal, water systems, should be the No. 1 priority for the town.

No specific deadline was given for the achieving the goal. In light of the recent water crisis, and ahead of the town's receipt of the after-incident report, "To a certain extent, Mr. Knight is going to have to figure out the steps he needs to take to achieve that goal," said Stewart. "The board, obviously, will have some input on that."

According to the 2019 town budget, Knight is the second-highest paid employee of the town. Including taxes and benefits, Public Works Director Travis Loberg's annual salary is $102,087.26.

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