Boulder renews utility strategy chief’s contract

BOULDER – The city of Boulder has renewed its employment contract with Heather Bailey, the architect of Boulder’s efforts to form a municipal utility and the city’s highest-paid employee.

The city will pay Bailey $272,361 annually through 2017, along with an additional $31,000 “stay allowance,” meant to retain Bailey for her “continued commitment to the energy project,” reads a contract signed by Boulder’s city manager, Jane Brautigam.

Bailey received the $31,000 as a housing allowance in her previous contract with the city, Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said.

Bailey, who accepted the new contract Tuesday, serves as executive director for Energy Strategy & Electric Utility Development. Her former contract was set to expire June 7.

Bailey has led the city’s efforts to break away from Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL). Earlier this month, the Boulder City Council unanimously approved an ordinance creating a municipal electric utility, authorizing the city to seek financing to form its own utility.

“The amount of work that’s been undertaken and the quality of the work has been substantial,” she said. “The findings of the work done to date have shown that this is a feasible option and achieving our energy goals.”

In January, the city sent Xcel a notice of its intent to acquire its assets in and around the city, a step required by law to start the process of acquiring property by the power of eminent domain. Boulder wants to increase its share of electricity generated from renewable sources while decreasing carbon emissions that fuel climate change.

Xcel does not want to sell its assets, contending that it can help Boulder reach its goals of a cleaner energy mix faster and more economically than the city can do on its own.

Bailey’s salary remains effectively the same as the $250,000 she received two years ago when her employment with the city began, except for merit pay increases she has received since then. City employees are eligible for as much as a 5 percent annual merit pay bump if an employee “exceeds our high expectations,” according to the city.

The city also will contribute 13.7 percent of Bailey’s annual salary to her retirement plan. Bailey has agreed to contribute 8 percent of her salary to the plan.

Bailey’s salary and benefits are funded by revenue from a utility occupation tax approved by voters. No general fund dollars are funding Bailey’s compensation, Huntley said. Bailey’s salary is similar to others in her industry, though her position is unique because she must not only bring a utility executive director’s skillset, but also the skillset required to form a new utility, Huntley said.

Bailey’s contract ends Dec. 31, 2017, when the utility occupation tax expires. Her contract also may end if funding for the position “unexpectedly expires,” Huntley said.

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