Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sun Valley administrator stepping down

Virginia Egger to become town manager of Avon, Colo.

Express Staff Writer

Virginia Egger

Virginia Egger, whose hiring at Sun Valley City Hall in February was described by Mayor Dewayne Briscoe as essential for regaining control of a city in a “dysfunctional situation,” will leave her post as interim executive assistant to the mayor on Nov. 9.

Briscoe announced Friday that Egger gave him a notice of resignation late last week, saying she had been hired as town manager of Avon, Colo., where she will begin work on Dec. 1.

“My decision, genuinely, is not to ‘leave’ Sun Valley work, but rather to return to Colorado to be closer to my daughters, several of my siblings, longtime climbing friends and high ‘thirteeners,’” Egger states in her resignation notice.

“Thirteeners” refers to the mountains in Colorado whose summits are above 13,000 feet.

Egger is the fourth important administrative employee to leave the city since the start of the year—the first three following an apparently increasingly hostile situation at City Hall under previous Mayor Wayne Willich. 

Briscoe said the city had hired a headhunting firm named The Mercer Group to search for applicants for the position of city administrator. However, he said, the position might remain unfilled until December or January. He said he might name another interim executive assistant to the mayor to fill Egger’s position for a month or two until the city decides on a permanent solution.

Egger has worked as interim executive assistant to the mayor since Feb. 8. The city hired her after its contract with former City Administrator Sharon Hammer was terminated—with no stated cause—in January. Egger had worked for the city previously between 2004 and 2007 and was already familiar with many of its policies and staff members.

“She was the only person with the ability and previous knowledge of the city to immediately step into this disorganized and dysfunctional situation and very quickly take control,” Briscoe said. “She and I work very well together. I’m sorry to lose her.”

Briscoe said Egger played a key role in reforming Sun Valley’s personnel policies in response to information provided by a forensic audit commissioned by the city in April. The audit report was provided to Briscoe and the City Council in an executive session on Aug. 24. The report and its supporting documents were subpoenaed last week by Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas pursuant to a grand jury investigation. The report has not been released to the public.

“The forensic audit may describe the problems [Egger] and I found and the reforms we have instituted to bring staff into compliance with city regulations,” Briscoe said.

In Egger’s notice of resignation, she expresses shock toward the facts revealed in the audit report.

“No one could have imagined what has transpired [in Sun Valley] since November,” she wrote.

In an email to the Express, Egger wrote that working for Sun Valley has been a “challenging” and “rewarding” experience, though some work still remains to be done.

“The work of updating the personnel policies, conducting the first employee performance evaluations in five years and solidly defining a culture of best practices with new city officers and existing staff is still ahead,” she stated. “Once these objectives are completed, I will feel good about completing the work, in concert with the staff and council, [that] Mayor Briscoe had hoped for when he invited me back.”

Egger wraps up her resignation notice by giving Briscoe some words of encouragement.

“RFM, Mayor Briscoe: Relentless Forward Motion!” she wrote.

Brennan Rego:

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