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Colorado Springs loses more leaders, pays more severance

Colorado Springs loses more leaders, pays more severance

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The city of Colorado Springs lost two more of its top managers this week and added to its growing tally of severance payouts.

Public Works director and city engineer Helen Migchelbrink, formerly the city engineer in Fort Collins, was with the city for one year and was not paid severance.

Manager of Innovation and Sustainability Nick Kittle, a nine-year city employee and the city's youngest manager, will get pay and benefits for the next two months, which is severance worth more than $18,000.

Mayor Steve Bach's chief of staff, Laura Neumann, said she wanted both employees to stay, but the "fit wasn't there" for Migchelbrink and that she and Bach decided to get rid of Kittle's position, and the new job he was offered didn't have the same kind of responsibility or profile.

Migchelbrink and Kittle said they couldn't comment.

Since Bach, the city's first strong mayor, took office two years ago, top city leaders have continued to leave their posts, and the city has now paid more than $1.6 million in severance packages, including health benefits, sick and vacation payouts.

"Whenever you're in a position of transformation, under the strong mayor form of government, there is going to be some transition within the executive ranks," said Neumann, echoing what Bach has said himself of the departures.

The city has just released the separation agreements for all 32 employees who have been given severance under the Bach administration. The agreements reveal that, in almost all the deals, the city wasn't contractually obligated to pay severance.

Neumann said there are several factors that go into making the decision whether to pay and what to pay. She said the number of a years someone has been employed by the city and why that person left factors in. She said if someone wasn't the right fit for the job, but did nothing wrong, a severance payout would be likely.

The agreements also showed that ex-employees are not allowed talk about the agreement or speak badly about the city or its staff after taking a severance deal. At least two employees are contractually obligated to pay the city if they break those clauses.

"From my years of serving in the private industry, that's very typical," Neumann said.

TARGET 13 asked Neumann if she expected city employees to continue to leave at the rate they have been.

"I'd like to think not," she said. "It's distracting when it happens. You lose some momentum when it happens within the organization."

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