Snowmass lures Fruita city manager

Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney often visits the popular Fruita Community Center, where he works out in the gym. He also had a hand in promoting the building of the center. His work in Fruita will continue through August, then Kinney will become town manager of Snowmass Village, where he and his family plan to enjoy the high-altitude lifestyle.

Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney easily wins the first heat of the2013 wings eating contest at the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita.

When Clint Kinney was hired to lead Fruita in 2002, a divisive Fruita City Council was slinging recall elections against each other.

Fast-forward a dozen years and the charged atmosphere has calmed. Fruita’s population has nearly doubled in size, nearby trails and city festivals attract far-flung visitors, residents approved a tax to build a recreation center, a new wastewater treatment plant is online, and the city boasts a revitalized downtown.

Fruita has welcomed a small business incubator center, started construction on the Greenway Business Park and spruced up several parks.

Mayor Lori Buck attributes leadership on all these fronts to Kinney, the city manager for the past 12 years.

Kinney was tapped Wednesday night for the town manager position in Snowmass Village. He will work in Fruita through August.

“We’re super happy for him but disappointed for the city of Fruita,” Buck said, a little saddened by the news Thursday. “The biggest thing with him is, he’s willing to take risks, not necessarily financial risks. He likes to tackle what he calls ‘big, hairy, audacious goals.’ As we search for somebody, they will have to have those qualifications.”

Kinney had applied for the open Snowmass position earlier this year, but according to newspaper reports there, councilors extended a contract to their part-time consultant, Gary Suiter.

But when Suiter did not receive unanimous approval among councilors, he decided not to accept the position. Suiter has been filling in as the interim town manager.

Kinney, 41, considers one of his best achievements to be attracting and retaining stellar city employees among all departments.

“We’re more professional than we’ve ever been,” he said. “We all work together as a team.”

Kinney said he is pleased that the Snowmass Village council unanimously supported extending him a contract. In the high-altitude ski resort town of about 2,800 people, Kinney said he will work on issues including a planned ski base that went bankrupt in 2009.

Other topics likely will be related to development and the town’s mammoth-related activities. Significant numbers of mammoth and mastodon fossils were unearthed in Snowmass a few years ago, something the town celebrates with educational events and festivals.

Kinney said he, his wife and two daughters, ages 8 and 10, are avid skiers and will enjoy the winter mountain lifestyle. 
“We try to get outdoors as much as possible,” he said.

Kinney’s salary will be $145,000 a year, and benefits include a $350-a-month car allowance and $100 a month for a cellphone. The family will live in a five-bedroom house the town designates for the town manager.

Buck said Kinney has helped usher in a number of positive changes for Fruita that have helped shape its identity.

“Everything that’s happened in Fruita over the past 12 years, he’s been a big part of that,” she said. “If I was in Snowmass, I’d be looking for someone like him to give Snowmass an identity.”

Kinney worked for five years in Durango as assistant to the city manager before coming to Fruita.

He said he loves Fruita and its community.

“I will just get to enjoy the community as a tourist instead of a local,” he said in a news release.

Kinney, who is known for his quick wit and humor, writes a weekly information update that is posted to the city’s website.

Buck said she’s not sure how many residents read the snippets, but the informational updates — which Kinney often punctuated with humor — will be a requirement for the city’s next manager.

“They don’t have to be humorous, but it will be a requirement,” she said.


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