Mayor Steve Bach announced sweeping changes to city government Wednesday, starting with Laura Neumann, a businesswoman with 24 years of experience in hotel, resort and conference center finances, becoming his new chief of staff, replacing interim chief Steve Cox.
"I am thrilled to to be a part of the mayor's team," Neumann said at an afternoon press conference.
Neumann, most recently vice president and general manager of Cheyenne Mountain Resort, will start Jan. 1. She will oversee city staff and serve on the mayor’s executive team.
Cox will not return to his previous post as fire chief, instead, filling a new position as chief of economic vitality and innovation. Cox will head city efforts for job creation and change within government. Cox will also be vice chair of the mayor’s executive team. Interim Fire Chief Richard Brown will stay in his position permanently. Brown has worked his way up since being hired as a Springs firefighter in 1980.
Nancy Johnson, former assistant city manager and current director of Parks, Planning, and Public Works, will now be deputy chief of staff and parks director. She will report to Neumann.
“The staff appointments announced today are positive and forward moving actions that put into place the next leadership steps to improve our City,” Bach said in a statement. “Each of these individuals is an exceptional leader and well qualified to tackle the important challenges and opportunities before us.”
Bach said he chose Neumann to be his new chief of staff because of her long record with managing people. He said he hopes that being free from the daily grind of managing a city will allow Cox to pursue larger goals like job creation and city improvements.
None of the new positions will include a pay raise. Neumann will be paid $165,000, which is less than Cox's $182,000.
Bach also announced three new “solution teams” — volunteer-led efforts meant to look for creative and budget-conscious upgrades to services and areas of the city. Retired businessman Robert Shonkwiler will lead a transit team, general contractor Chuck Murphy will head a downtown team, and former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman will lead a parks team.
Two of the mayor's solution team leaders, Skorman and the previously announced Dave Munger who is leading streetscapes, ran against him in the mayoral election. Bach said he wasn't bothered by that.
"It doesn't make a difference to me that someone ran against me," he said. " We're all in this together."