Frisco Town Council begins search for new town manager
The town has had 5 managers since 2011, including those who served in interim positions
Following last week’s resignation of Frisco Town Manager Tony O’Rourke, Frisco Town Council officially began its search for a new manager at a work session Tuesday, Jan. 25. The process began by first giving town staff the approval to use a hiring firm to recruit the next town manager.
Frisco Human Resources Manager O’Lynda Fette explained in the work session that Frisco has had five town managers since 2011, including the interim managers. Not including interim, she said the average stay has been a little less than three years, with the longest being five years.
O’Rourke had the shortest tenure of those, working in Frisco for less than six months. He was appointed to the position by Frisco Town Council on July 13 and began officially working Aug. 2.
“I’m sure we’re all in agreement that we’re looking for stability and longevity in our next town manager going forward,” Fette said.
Fette said that in the past, the town has mainly used internal recruitment with heavy support from previous town managers. As an example, O’Rourke previously worked with former Town Manager Nancy Kerry in South Lake Tahoe, California.
O’Rourke also previously worked in Beaver Creek and Cañon City; Yakima, Washington; and Panama City Beach and Coral Springs in Florida.
During this latest search, Fette said an external firm would help objectively search for candidates, screen and interview people, narrow down choices and more. She said firms typically charge 15% to 20% of the position’s annualized wage, meaning it would cost the town an estimated $40,000.
The money would come from the town’s general fund; however, the cost was not accounted for in the 2022 budget. Fette’s report said the funds can be taken from the $928,193 excess budgeted in 2022 that is currently scheduled to transfer to the capital fund.
At another meeting, staff will provide a list of firms from which Town Council can select. According to Fette’s staff report, the town charter states that council has six months to appoint a new manager. Diane McBride will serve as the interim town manager.
O’Rourke replaced interim Town Manager Jeff Durbin and Kerry, who resigned in April. O’Rourke said he resigned to return to Florida, where his wife lives.
“My wife is there, among other opportunities, and I made the decision. I resigned,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I had nothing but a positive experience. I love the community, it’s got a good council, and I think we accomplished a lot of things in six months.”
Approval of O’Rourke’s release and separation was included in the consent agenda of Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. The consent agenda is usually made up of various items that can be approved by Town Council in a blanket motion without discussion. While there was no discussion, council member Andrew Aerenson was the only official to vote “no” on the motion.
When asked Wednesday, Jan. 26, why he voted that way, Aerenson told the Summit Daily News that he wanted to show there wasn’t consensus.
“I wish Tony the best as he moves on to his next chapter,” Aerenson said. “I truly enjoyed working with him. My vote was related to Tony’s resignation and was based on my disagreement with the process and to reflect that there was not consensus within council during the executive session personnel discussions.”
Aerenson declined to elaborate further. According to past Town Council agendas, there were executive sessions about “personnel matters concerning the town manager performance reviews” on Nov. 9, Nov. 30 and Jan. 11. Though O’Rourke’s contract stated that the first performance review was to be held in January 2022, town spokesperson Vanessa Agee said it is up to council discretion.
With the motion approved, the town has agreed to pay O’Rourke $141,465.24, subject to applicable deductions and withholdings, payable within 14 days of the execution of the agreement. O’Rourke’s annual base salary was $155,000, according to his contract. Agee couldn’t comment on the severance amount and said the figure was likely decided in executive session.
Frisco Mayor Hunter Mortensen thanked O’Rourke for his work during the Tuesday meeting.
“It’s been a whirlwind of accomplishments and activity with Tony and the town, and I just want to personally wish him the best on his next endeavors and adventures in life, and I appreciate his time here and the accomplishments that were made in that time,” Mortensen said. “Thank you, Tony, for all of that.”
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