Downtown paying for advice via Arkansas

Heidi Hoffman Ham, former executive director for Grand Junction’s Downtown Development Authority, is still working for and being paid by the agency since her resignation three months ago.

After her last day as a full-time employee July 21, Ham agreed to work as a contractor for the volunteer DDA board until a new executive director is hired. She moved to Hot Springs, Ark.

Ham has been earning $600 a week for her services, payment that equates to less than half the income she earned while full-time with the organization. She earned an annual salary of $75,000 while employed as the director, a position she had since May 2008.

“She’s not getting health insurance and benefits, which is a steal for taxpayers,” DDA board member Steve Thoms said of Ham’s reduced pay as a contractor.

Ham did not reply to an email seeking comment last week.

Ham has two weeks left on her contract as DDA board members believe they have found Ham’s successor. Board members voted after a meeting Thursday to offer the executive director position to Harry Weiss of Asheville, N.C.

According to terms of the temporary employment contract, Ham’s requirements are:

Reviewing payroll and accounts payable.

Creating a draft budget for all Downtown Partnership funds.

Project management, including signs to direct people around town; Downtown Uplift technology installation; Business Improvement District boundary corrections; and city planning regarding the Greater Downtown Planning Area.

Preparation of meeting agendas, including public postings, and coordination of speakers, minutes and executive communications.

Management of Facade program and outdoor dining lease applications, including problem resolution, coordination with city staff and permit issuance.

Resolution of real estate, property management and tenant issues, as needed.

Preparation of request for proposals for holiday lighting.

Thoms and DDA board chairwoman Peggy Page said Ham had drafted a budget for the downtown entities. She also has been working with contractors and Grand Junction city officials on getting Wi-Fi installed along the newly opened portion of the Downtown Uplift project, which includes the 400, 500 and 600 blocks of Main Street.

According to minutes of past meetings, Page has been signing off on payroll time sheets and permits as the group sought an executive director.

City attorney John Shaver was asked to work on a lease agreement for a property at Sixth Street and Colorado Avenue.

While the DDA is a separate entity from the city, city officials perform duties for the organization in return for payment. Meeting minutes also indicated city officials were working on redrawing boundaries for the Business Improvement District. The Business Improvement District comprises property and business owners who imposed a special tax on themselves to pay for marketing and promotion of downtown events.


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