AURORA | Dissatisfaction with Aurora’s city manager has been brewing for over a year, explaining a rare and surprising move against him on Monday, according to city council members who say they are being treated unfairly by City Manager Skip Noe.
In an unusual move at a regular city council meeting Monday, Barb Cleland and four other councilwomen proposed a vote of no confidence for Noe. That measure failed to be included on the agenda because it could not get a two-thirds majority backing, spelled out by the city’s charter.
“For the last two evaluations that we’ve had with the city manager, several of us made comments we feel we had not been treated equally,” she said.
Noe said after the surprise move Monday that he was unaware of such a level of dissatisfaction, and that his most recent evaluation, just weeks ago, resulted in high marks and a raise.
But Cleland said complaints were certainly lodged during the most recent evaluation. The city council reviews the city manager’s performance once a year.
“I truly regret we have to do it this way. It’s not the way I like doing things, but when I feel that I haven’t been heard for over a year, it’s just very frustrating,” she said. “I’m an elected official, I would like to be treated the same as any other elected official.”
Mounier said that all of the councilwomen who expressed they had no confidence in Noe were women was no coincidence.
“I believe he has issues with women,” Mounier said.
Berzins was one of the council members to join in on the no confidence vote Monday. She said it was a difficult choice to make.
“I had supported Skip all these years, and he has promised to fix the issues and he hasn’t. It finally came to a point that I felt like I needed to get a conversation going, bring this to light and not kick the can down the road any longer,” she said.
Noe was appointed Aurora city manager in December 2010. He was previously city manager for Corpus Christi, Texas.
Berzins echoed her colleagues in her opinion that Noe had not treated everyone on city council equally, though she did not say whether the issue was gender-specific.
“I think Skip has been a very good city manager, but there’s more to being the city manager than just business issues,” she added. “I hope we get a conversation going, and immediately go into damage control and solve the problems.”
Councilwoman Debi Hunter Holen was the only female Aurora City Council member to say she was satisfied with Skip’s performance as city manager.
“I have always found the city manager to be fair and treat everyone the same way,” she said. “He’s always responded, called me back, helped me with things. Sometimes I think that our city is moving so quickly, so fast that there are so many items that need to be attended to at the same time, that some things get lost.”
Holen said she had advocated adding an additional deputy city manager to Noe’s staff to help him better address city council priorities.
She also cited Noe’s performance review last month where city council decided to approve a pay increase, the majority gave him a positive evaluation.
“We gave him a good evaluation and asked him to address some issues, one being communication,” she said. “During that meeting there was never any discussion about a timeline or reporting back.”
According to city records, Noe makes $196,764 a year as city manager. His salary increased by nearly 4 percent in 2015 from the year before, the same increase that all city employees received as part of the 2015 city budget.
Noe would not discuss his performance reviews, and he said the issue should be discussed privately where he would welcome addressing his critics.
“The way this process works is those discussions happen in executive session,” he said. “I have worked for my entire career effectively with women. I have never had any issue expressed concerning my ability to work with women.”
Aurora operates under the council-manager form of government, where council members set legislative policy and the budget, and a city manager carries out the day-to-day operations with a city staff. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan has a full-time position while serving a mostly ceremonial function with the power to create and break ties on council votes.
Councilman Bob LeGare said council members are simply upset with Noe for doing his job.
“I think that Skip has done a fantastic job,” LeGare said. “I have no issues whatsoever with Skip’s performance. The reality is Skip does not work for any individual council member. He works for all of city council. If Skip had done everything necessary to please the five opponents, he would probably have six council members wanting to remove him instead of five.”