Mountain Regional Water chooses not to renew general manager’s contract
Mountain Regional Water District announced last week that General Manager Andy Armstrong’s contract, which was set to expire in September, would not be renewed or extended, ending his 12-year career with the public utility.
The news on May 30 came after the water district’s administrative control board recommended that the Summit County Council release Armstrong from his contract without cause. As the governing board of the special service district, the County Council approved the request. Armstrong could not be reached for comment.
“All I know is they decided to go a different direction and felt like they should let Andy know now instead of waiting until August,” said Brian Bellamy, Summit County’s human resource director.
The County Council’s decision immediately terminated Armstrong’s contract without cause, making him eligible for a payout. Bellamy said Armstrong is entitled to six months of his salary while the county searches for another director.
“The Summit County Council and Mountain Regional Water Administrative Control Board appreciate Mr. Armstrong’s 12 years of service and the advancement of Mountain Regional’s mission during that time,” a statement in a Summit County press release read.
Michael Kobe, chair of the administrative control board, and Bob Neumesiter, vice chair, did not respond to a request for a comment on the matter. County Council members are unable to comment on personnel matters.
For much of Armstrong’s tenure, the water company was embroiled in a lawsuit with Summit Water Distribution Company. In the early 2000s, Summit Water sued the then-Summit County Commission alleging the county was requiring developers to use the county-controlled water district instead of Summit Water as a condition for approval.
Mountain Regional and Summit Water settled the antitrust lawsuit in 2012. The settlement allowed Mountain Regional to sell wholesale water to Summit Water through a process called regionalization, according to a report prepared in 2014.
The Mountain Regional board announced that Melissa O’Brien has been appointed as interim manager for approximately three months. O’Brien is the planning and legal affairs manager for the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District.
The water district is actively recruiting for a general manager, posting about the opening on several job recruitment websites.
According to a post on LinkedIn, the general manager’s duties include planning, directing and controlling the activities and operations of the district while maintaining consistency with the organization’s mission to “provide the best quantity and quality supply of water at the lowest possible cost to district rate-payers.”
The position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, law, or another related field, but a master’s degree is preferred.
After the County Council terminated Armstrong’s contract, it approved a series of resolutions to annex Community Water Company into Mountain Regional Water’s district. The annexation has been in the works for several years. Community Water Company serves areas that include Park West Village and Canyons resort.
The county created Mountain Regional Water in 2000 to deliver water to businesses and residents. The district has an operating budget of $8.2 million and employs 27 people. It covers approximately 39 square miles and serves about 3,000 residential customers, with roughly 200 non-residential customers.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.