Grievance hearing scheduled

Former Chief Building Official Marchus faces board in April

A grievance hearing for ex-Chief Building Official Mark Marchus tentatively has been scheduled for the week of April 12, and two members have been chosen for the three-member board that will decide whether the decision to fire Marchus was appropriate, Marchus' attorney said.

Marchus selected Routt County Undersheriff Dan Taylor to serve on the board, and Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan selected county Finance Director Dan Strnad, said Marchus' attorney, Charles Feldmann.

Routt County commissioners will pick the third person, who also will be the chair, to serve on the board.

"Myself and the county are still fighting over a lot of procedural matters, such as the hearing being open to the public," Feldmann said. "Once we get the board appointed, then the board can resolve our differences."

The county terminated Marchus on Feb. 16 in response to allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and violated county gift polices by taking stones that a contractor was throwing away, Feldmann has said. Marchus has denied those allegations.

The grievance procedure begins with a hearing and a decision from the three-member board. That decision can be appealed to the Board of County Commissioners, which will have the final decision.

Routt County Attorney John Merrill said he could not comment on specifics of the case, but could describe the grievance procedure generally. All county employees are "at-will employees," which means they can be fired with or without cause, he said. The focus of grievance procedures is whether or not an appropriate management decision was made, Merrill said.

That means that even if county commissioners decide an appropriate management decision was not made, Marchus could still be fired.

Feldmann said he hoped to make the first grievance proceeding open to the public, a request the county has previously denied. Feldman also said he planned to bring dozens of witnesses before the grievance board to bring out the facts of the case.

"So much of our case revolves around getting the accurate facts out instead of the innuendo and rumors that were the basis of (Marchus') termination," Feldmann said. "I hope to show that the basis for his termination, No. 1, was based on rumors and innuendos and not facts. I think when the actual facts come out, that it will be clear there was no basis for his termination."

Feldmann said he also hoped to show that Marchus did a lot to make the building department more user-friendly and customer-service oriented.

Routt County officials are asking Marchus to return missing copies of at least two personnel files, and have said if they are not returned, a lawsuit could follow. Marchus said he does not have the files. Merrill said Monday that the files have not been found.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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