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Monument trustees fire town manager, reappoint town clerk

June 4, 2018 Updated: June 4, 2018 at 11:09 pm
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(Courtesy townofmonument.org)

MONUMENT - Town Manager Chris Lowe was fired Monday night in a unanimous vote by the town's six trustees after they spent more than three hours in executive session.

Lowe had been suspended in early February, placed on paid administrative leave for two weeks. But that suspension was extended for months amid apparent allegations of sexual harassment as well as fears among staff members of retribution by Lowe.

Lowe, who was paid about $121,000 a year, did not respond to requests for comment Monday night.

Chris Lowe (Courtesy of townofmonument.org) 

An independent investigation of Lowe by the town's insurer, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, has either been completed or is nearing completion, but town officials will not discuss its findings.

In rejecting The Gazette's efforts to obtain a complaint against Lowe by Police Chief Jacob Shirk, Town Clerk Laura Hogan referenced a statute that keeps sexual harassment complaints private. She also cited a statutory exemption that disclosure of the memo "would substantially harm the public interest by unduly interfering with the privacy rights and liberty interests of the Town's employees ... "

The town cited the same statutes in declining to release another complaint against Lowe filed by a Monument police sergeant in February.

Town employees are "fearful of retaliation" by Lowe, an attorney told the board in February.

"They're concerned about some of the comments and actions that have been taken by the city manager, and they're not able to do their job," said Colorado Springs employment law attorney Erin Jensen.

Lowe was appointed town manager in August 2015 to supervise employees, oversee day-to-day operations and prepare the annual budget.

Monument Town Clerk Laura Hogan (Photo via townofmonument.org) 

Also Monday night, the board voted 5-1 to reappoint Hogan as town clerk. Her job, as well as those of two other key employees, had been in limbo since the board failed to reappoint them by a state deadline. Trustee Laurie Clark cast the dissenting vote against her reappointment.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith also wasn't reappointed by the deadline, but she was named interim town manager after Lowe was suspended.

The board - which has been plagued by 3-3 stalemates since the April election - voted unanimously, too, Monday night to let voters select a seventh trustee during the Nov. 6 general election, piggybacking on El Paso County's ballot.

It will be cheaper to coordinate the election with the county, Hogan said.

An independent election could cost the town about $11,000, but coordinating with the county could cost half as much, Hogan said.

Aspiring candidates will have to circulate nomination petitions, she said.

The board repeatedly has failed to agree on a seventh trustee, including two - Jim Romanello and Kenneth Kimple - who were nominated during Monday's meeting.

Romanello was rejected in a 3-3 vote, as he had been two weeks earlier.

And Kimple lost in a 4-2 vote.

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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