Castle Pines Councilmember James Einolf — the only city councilmember to vote earlier this year against hiring a public relations firm for $6,480 per month — told the council at the Oct. 22 meeting that he wouldn't be able to approve the city's September expenditures report because of the public-relations payment in it and the lack of detail accompanying that expense.
“I'm sorry, but we're now paying more for public relations than we're paying for (0ur) attorney,” he said at one point. “And I just can't sanction that.”
Mayor Jeff Huff asked if the public relations person — Castle Pines resident Timi Aguilar, founder of Aguilar Public Relations — would like to provide more detail. Diane Spomer, the city's deputy city clerk, told the council that Aguilar's September activities report had been in the council packet earlier in the month, at the Oct. 8 council meeting, and she apologized that the report inadvertently had not been included in this meeting's packet.
Aguilar came to the lectern and also confirmed the existence of a detailed September report and expressed her desire to understand what else Einolf needed.
Einolf replied: “I think the people in the audience would be happy to just hear you read the list of what you did in September for six thousand four hundred and eighty dollars.”
Aguilar started reading through her firm's September activities after Huff found a copy of Aguilar's September report and handed it to her. But at one point, Aguilar stopped to inform the council that her explanation would be lengthy and asked if she should speed it up.
“Timi, take as much time as you need since you're being challenged by one of the councilmembers as to the integrity of your work,” Huff said. “I think it's important that you take as much time as needed in order to explain what you're doing on behalf of the city.”
Her explanation took about 10 minutes as she went through the report that can be found at http://castlepines.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?meta_id=3867&view=&showpdf=1.
“I think it was the best sixty four hundred dollars we ever spent,” Huff told Aguilar after she finished her explanation.
The council's July decision brought in Aguilar for a flat monthly fee of $6,480 for approximately 20 hours of work per week, according to the approved agreement. Councilmember Kathy DesRosiers, prior to that July vote, told council that she found in her research that the Castle Pines Metro District spends $126,000 to “reach pretty much the same audience.”
But Einolf said in an interview later that he thinks spending the money for a public relations firm “is a terrible waste of money.” Einolf said “these days” you just need email and good website to communicate.
In an Oct. 24 email, Einolf said he did feel sorry for Timi Aguilar as she stood at the podium. “Of course I did, she was obviously nervous and upset.
“But it's not my job to make people feel comfortable spending taxpayer money — it's my job to ensure that money is well-spent.”
Einolf said the community has a monthly newspaper that “does an excellent job of reporting all of the good things that happen in Castle Pines, and of informing our citizens about coming events …
“We're spending $78,000 per year of taxpayer money to make the Castle Pines City Council look good. I hope that when the new council takes over in January, one of their first actions will be to allocate that money to something useful, like roadway maintenance, instead,” he said.
Councilmember Jaime Edwards, recently appointed to fill a vacated Ward 3 seat and now running to keep it, told the News-Press later that she thinks Aguilar “has been doing a wonderful job for the city.”
“I have been pleased with the content and timeliness of their work. Additionally, the firm is doing the job they were hired to do at the rate that was negotiated and approved by council,” said Edwards, who wasn't on the council when Aguilar was hired.
The vote to approve the September report was 4-1, with Einolf the dissenting vote. Councilmembers Kim Hoffman and Marc Towne were absent.