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Park City Council Affirms City Manager Diane Foster's Separation From Park City Municipal

Park City Mayor Andy Beerman, joined by Councilmembers Tim Henney, Becca Gerber and Nann Worel, voted at a special meeting Friday to terminate City Manager Diane Foster’s 2013 employment agreement without cause, meaning Foster’s employment did not end due to reasons such as embezzlement or theft; violation of her duties and responsibilities as city manager; or other conduct in violation of city ethics code. Councilmembers Steve Joyce and Lynn Ware Peek were excused from the meeting due to scheduling conflicts.

 

Henney made the motion, with Gerber seconding. Beerman says Peek and Joyce made clear to him ahead of time they supported the direction.

The two-minute meeting, which was publicly noticed Thursday, came three days after the city announced that Foster would be separating from the municipal government. Park City Assistant City Manager Matt Dias has stepped into the role as interim city manager, with council assessing his ability to fill the position permanently. The city hired Dias as assistant city manager in July 2013, filling the vacancy Foster left when she came on as city manager in March 2013.

As Foster’s understudy for the past six years, Beerman says Dias has performed well and is prepared to work as interim city manager. Beerman spoke to the new direction Dias might lead the city.

“I think the vision comes from the council and the community, so I don't expect that to change," Beerman said. "The question is will the management style change? And they do have different styles, and we're going to see how his style fits going forward.”

Beerman says the council will talk with Dias about hiring a new assistant city manager, though they’re not in a hurry to take on more staff.

Per her employment agreement, Foster qualifies for up to a year’s salary as severance, plus earned vacation benefits. The separation agreement could cost city taxpayers upwards of $170,000.

As assistant city manager, Dias worked as the city’s liaison to the state legislature. Beerman says it’s yet to be determined how Dias’ work will differ.

“His job just got a lot bigger, and it's going to take some time to sort out where his new priorities will be and how that changes his role,” Beerman said.

The city’s press release announcing Foster’s departure Tuesday noted Park City Municipal would not undertake an external search for city manager. Beerman says he’s been through that process before, and it can be difficult to find the right candidate. He says Dias already has the skills they’re looking for in a city manager.

“Why not try the person that has already shown you they're capable before you decide that you might do a broader search," Beerman said. "He has our confidence, and we're going to give him a chance in the role to see how he does, then we'll make a decision down the line. There's no need to rush into anything right now.”

Beerman says the city council will formalize Dias as acting city manager at council’s meeting on Oct. 10.

Only one person besides media attended the special meeting. Park City-based employment attorney Kelly Quigley Applegate told KPCW she was there to observe as an interested member of the public.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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