Jerry Forte, chief operating officer for the city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities, has been awarded a total of $71,000 in bonuses.
The City Council, which acts as the utility’s governing board, evaluated his performance last month and in an 8-1 vote, the council concluded that in 2009 he had met or exceeded expectations on a variety of fronts, ranging from competitiveness to customer satisfaction.
Mayor Lionel Rivera cast the lone dissenting vote, arguing that one of the categories that Forte was evaluated upon – called cash on hand – was higher than normal because of an $18 million stimulus grant that the Air Force Academy had secured to build a solar power facility.
The Air Force subsequently turned the funds over to CSU because it’s going to build the facility, Rivera said. Without the Air Force money, the cash-on-hand would have been less, which in turn would have lowered Forte’s score in that category, he explained.
Forte’s base salary in 2010 in is $276,750, said CSU spokesman Dave Grossman. The bonuses include a one-time annual payment of $31, 411, as well as a long-term incentive award of $39,852 that will be rolled into Forte’s supplemental executive retirement account, Grossman said.
Forte’s performance was evaluated in more than a dozen categories. He received high marks for keeping the utility financially sound, for encouraging volunteerism among employees, as well as maintaining reliable utility services.
But he received a “meet expectations” rating for keeping rates competitive. Residential rates and commercial rates were roughly 3.5 percent above the regional average, while industrial rates were 11.42 percent below the regional average, the evaluation noted.
Forte, who oversees four separate utility services – electric, gas, water and waster – has an unusually complex job, said Grossman. “Most utility leaders need to be an expert in managing electric service. In Colorado Springs, the CEO needs not only electric expertise, but also needs to effectively run natural gas operations and deal with the complexities of providing water to a large city far from a major water source. Wastewater service provides a fourth level of knowledge and expertise that a Colorado Springs Utilities CEO must possess.”