The Star Valley council Tuesday night fine-tuned a previous motion that could be misconstrued to give its town attorney/manager unintended power.
At an Aug. 16 meeting, the council approved a motion that any town councilor or commission member get approval from manager Tim Grier before contacting or meeting with an outside agency to discuss town issues. The idea being to monitor who meets with an agency and when, to avoid confusion among councilors.
For example, two people may schedule a meeting with the Forest Service unbeknownst to each other. This confuses the Forest Service and possibly jeopardizes a pending agreement.
The trouble came with the phrasing of the ordinance, Grier said, who was absent from the Aug. 16 meeting.
Specifying that Grier give his “approval” may make it look like he is in charge of whom councilors meet with.
“In no way was it meant to silence you or inhibit you as a council member or commission member of going out,” Grier said. “You are all elected politicians and you should have a voice.”
The only people giving their stamp of approval for meetings should be fellow councilors and commission members, he added.
The council suggested when a commission member wants to meet with an agency, they let other commission members know. With their approval, they schedule a meeting and then inform Grier so he can choose to attend or not.
This system keeps everyone informed.
“What I think this will do for you is that this will bring back information,” Grier said. “Then the decision making body will all have the same information.”
Grier said a Roundup editorial and article after the Aug. 16 meeting spun it to make Grier look like a dictator. “It may be hard to muzzle that spin they have on it, but it is good policy,” he said. “I don’t think I should have authority to say ‘No council you cannot go and talk to this agency’… but I certainly want to be there to offer legal counsel.”
Councilor Gary Coon said he agreed with Grier. “We are forming our communication lines,” he said. The council approved the new ordinance omitting any mention of Grier giving “approval.”
Later, the council convened in executive session to discuss Grier’s compensation.
At the Aug. 16 meeting, the council agreed to bump Grier’s salary up to $115,000, a 20 percent increase. Grier also receives 20 vacation and three personal days a year. After a two-hour discussion behind closed doors Tuesday, the council decided to keep Grier’s pay rate at $115,000 annually, but lower his severance package from six to three months and drop the notification clause from 90 to 30 days.
No other comment was given.