Colorado Springs City Manager Penelope Culbreth-Graft emerged from her annual performance evaluation in good spirits Monday, with several City Council members saying afterward that the beleaguered city official has done a good job in tough times.

“It was very positive,” a smiling Culbreth-Graft said after the two-hour executive-session review.
Culbreth-Graft, who became city manager in January 2008, declined to say how long she plans to stay in Colorado Springs.

“Let’s just say I am gainfully employed,” she said.

Culbreth-Graft receives $210,000 a year, plus benefits. Her employment agreement also calls for the city to provide her with a vehicle, which she can use for personal business.

Councilwoman Jan Martin said that Culbreth-Graft has “done a very good job in these very difficult times” and that she gave no indication of wanting to leave her post.

“We don’t want her to leave, and I have no indication that she wants to leave,” she said.

Councilman Tom Gallagher said he gave Culbreth-Graft “straight ones” in all categories of her evaluation on a scale of one to five, with one representing the lowest score.

“I’m the lone voice in the wilderness,” he said, referring to his colleagues.

Gallagher, who has butted heads with Culbreth-Graft over his proposal to implement across-the-board pay cuts, said the city is headed in the wrong direction.

“A city manager is responsible for everything in the city, and I’m not real happy with the way things are going,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody in the city is, and it’s not the result of a community too stingy to pay. I think it’s a structure that’s so inflexible that it can’t bend.”

Before the meeting, Vice Mayor Larry Small said Culbreth-Graft has had “one of the most difficult jobs” of any city manager in Colorado Springs.

“These are unprecedented times,” he said. “We’ve never had a city manager have to face the issues that she’s had to face, and I think she’s faced them well, as best she could with the resources she had to work with.”

Mayor Lionel Rivera agreed, saying residents “barely felt any impact” in city services last year under Culbreth-Graft’s watch despite more than $20 million in cuts, including layoffs.

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