Herzog resign

Telluride Town Manager, Ross Herzog, tendered his resignation last week, effective Dec. 31. (Planet file photo)

Telluride’s Town Manager, Ross Herzog, announced his resignation Nov. 1, effective Dec. 31. Herzog was hired in 2017.

“I have truly valued the opportunity to serve as Town Manager for the Town of Telluride, and I am proud of all the town accomplished in the last four years. Telluride is incredibly fortunate to have such talented, hardworking, and dedicated staff who provide our public services to our citizens,” Herzog said in a news release.

The news release further stated: “Herzog has demonstrated loyalty, dedication, and vision during his time as manager. Throughout the pandemic Herzog has provided support to help maintain the health and safety of the town staff and the citizens of Telluride.”

Herzog was hired by the town in 2017, rising to the top of a pool of 67 hopefuls seeking to fill the post of departing town manager, Greg Clifton. Former town council member Ann Brady compared the then-new hire to his predecessor.

“(He has) humility, a calm demeanor, someone who listens before he talks (and) intelligence,” Brady said. “We feel like this is Greg 15 years ago.”

Herzog moved to Telluride after his stint with Connecticut’s Town of Winchester/City of Winsted (Winsted is an incorporated city, part of the Town of Winchester) as the assistant chief financial officer and manager.

Former council member Jenny Patterson said in 2017 that Herzog’s financial acumen was a big plus in her view.

“I feel extremely confident that this man comes with a strong financial background,” she said. 

At his hiring date, Herzog received a $130,000 starting salary, plus a $36,000 annual stipend to offset housing costs.

Herzog shepherded the town through both routine — annual budget crafting infrastructure maintenance and others — and extraordinary tasks, but probably none as nerve-wracking as that of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global issue spared no one when, in March of 2020, public health orders resulted in the closure of the Telluride Ski Resort weeks before closing day. With nimble governance and immediate belt-tightening, Herzog oversaw implementation of the so-called recession budget and numerous emergency ordinances aimed at protecting public health. As summer neared, Herzog and council worked to envision ways to keep the town’s tourist economy functioning, and passed new laws to allow open containers and to-go alcoholic beverage sales, expansion of outdoor eating and gathering places with the closure of the westbound lane of Colorado Avenue through the business district, the creation of a hardship rental program, mask ordinances and other measures.

Herzog and council enjoyed the good fortune of a white-hot real estate market fueled by pandemic refugees, as well as a seemingly never-ending stream of tourists who thronged Telluride businesses last summer. The robust Real Estate Transfer Tax and sales tax collections meant that the planned austerity measures imposed by the various stages of the municipal recession plan never needed to come into play.

Herzog is committed to making the hand-off to his successor as seamless as possible.

“I want to reassure everyone that I am committed to ensuring a smooth transition over the next two months. My goal is to leave town on a steady footing for the future so the next Town Manager can continue to lead successfully,” Herzog said in a prepared statement.

Mayor Pro Tem and outgoing council member Todd Brown (he is termed out) lauded Herzog’s efforts as town manager.

“I wish Ross and his family well in his future endeavors,” Brown said. “He is a warm and caring person who certainly helped town deal with all the complications the pandemic dealt us through the last two years, and has brought our staff through many personnel changes and challenges with our infrastructure, both current and planned.”

Herzog did not respond to further questions from the Daily Planet.