Wednesday, August 25, 2004

SV tabs local for city administrator

Egger to leave P&Z and take office on Sept. 15

Express Staff Writer

Virginia Egger Photo by David N. Seelig

Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson last week hired a new city administrator, approximately two months after the city and its previous administrative chief agreed to part ways.

Sun Valley City Council members Thursday, Aug. 19 authorized Thorson to hire Sun Valley resident Virginia Egger, a member of the city?s Planning and Zoning Commission, to fill the vacant post.

Egger moved to Sun Valley four years ago from the mountain-resort city of Telluride, Colo. In Telluride, she served as town manager?the equivalent of city administrator?for nearly seven years in the 1990s.

?It?s Virginia?s background in public administration, land-use planning, community housing and her strong financial skills that make her especially quali-fied for the job,? Thorson said.

The mayor said he was also impressed by Egger?s solid reputation as a ?facilitator.?

Egger will earn $105,000 per year in the post. She is scheduled to take office on Sept. 15.

Thorson said Tuesday that Egger will be required to step down from her seat on the six-person P&Z. Thorson appointed Egger to the P&Z last January as one of his first actions in office.

On the P&Z, Egger quickly earned the respect of her colleagues at City Hall, showing a keen understanding of issues facing mountain-resort cities.

Egger had first applied for the Sun Valley city administrator position last year, after former administrator Dan Pincetich resigned in April 2003 to take a job with the city of Half Moon Bay, Calif.

However, former Mayor David Wilson and the City Council ultimately chose Jan Wellman, from Veneta, Ore., to replace Pincetich.

In June, Wellman and Thorson agreed to exert a clause in Wellman?s employment contract that allowed for ?separation without cause,? in part because the two city leaders did not see eye to eye on what Wellman?s role should be.

Wellman, who earned approximately $95,000 per year with the city, was slated to receive six months of severance pay after his departure.

Thorson said two candidates were considered to fill the vacancy created by Wellman?s departure. Egger, who was one of the top three candidates to re-place Pincetich, was one of them.

After Wellman and Thorson agreed to part ways, Thorson said he wanted to hire an administrator with a ?vital interest in the community,? who can help to ensure Sun Valley is maintained as an attractive and popular mountain resort.

While in Telluride, Thorson noted, Egger worked extensively on the development of affordable housing, highway and transportation issues, historic-building preservation and open space protection. In 1998, Egger founded the Telluride Mountain School, an independent school located in the core of Tellu-ride Mountain Village.

In the last year, Egger served as executive director of the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival.

?We are fortunate to have the right person in the right place at the right time,? Thorson said.

Egger is married and has two children.

Thorson said her seat on the P&Z will not be filled, pursuant to a plan by the city to reduce the number of P&Z commissioners from six to five.

As a part of the new five-person P&Z, the chairman, Phil Usher, will be permitted to participate in all votes. Now, the chairman can only vote to break ties.

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