Asked for Resignation, Commissioners Blame Contentious Nature of County
MONTROSE COUNTY – After requesting County Manager Rick Eckert’s resignation, and his subsequent decision to do so last month, the Montrose Board of County Commissioners has awarded a severance package to Eckert of over $115,000.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by all three Montrose County Commissioners, after recent discussions with Eckert it became “obvious” that Eckert was struggling in his role as county manager and the county’s heated political climate may have led to that struggle.
“It appeared that his concerns about the contentious nature of the county may have created health issues for him as well as impacted his family,” the commissioners stated. “We felt it was in his best interest and the interest of the county that he resign. Manager Eckert agreed to the request and submitted his letter of resignation.” The commissioners awarded Eckert his severance in a Nucla meeting on May 14.
As stated in the approved severance agreement, Montrose County agreed to pay Eckert 10 months’ salary, in the amount of $93,175, as well as $8,374 in accrued vacation pay. Eckert will also receive a lump sum in the amount of $14,212 for health insurance coverage.
“We felt that in consideration of the circumstances involving manager Eckert’s resignation that we had some responsibility to provide a fair severance package to Eckert,” stated the commissioners. “He moved himself and his wife halfway across the country, in no small inconvenience, and his tenure here was not what he anticipated. Due to the frustration he incurred, we felt it was appropriate to give him additional severance. Also, we felt it was prudent and reasonable to have the separation be amiable.”
Eckert began work on January 1st of last year, and tendered his letter of resignation to the county on April 23. In his letter, he cited the contentious political nature of the county as at least part of the reason for calling it quits.
“The constant, non-stop contention, with no end in sight, is not physically sustainable,” Eckert stated. “The stress of constant contention takes a toll on any manager, and it is neither normal nor healthy. Debate, dissention, and dialogue are both healthy and necessary, but contention is not.”
Eckert cited the current uproar surrounding a possible second Fixed-Base Operator at the Montrose Regional Airport as an example.
“Lack of civility in conducting the public business, whether from the press, groups or individuals, is indicative of what is happening in Washington, D.C., Denver, and locally,” Eckert stated in his letter. “The tone and demeanor of the majority of speakers at the last FBO public hearing is a perfect example…”
Montrose County Facilities Manager Ken Norris is acting as interim manager while a nationwide search for a new county manager gets underway. Norris took the role of interim county manager on May 16, when Eckert officially left his post.