Former Douglas County manager leaves Colorado job |

Former Douglas County manager leaves Colorado job

by Alex Zorn
Rifle, Colo., Citizen Telegram
Jim Nichols

After only three months, the city of Rifle, Colo., approved a separation agreement with former Douglas County Manager Jim Nichols.

Nichols signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Rocky Mountain city in November 2017.

Terms of the city’s separation agreement with Nichols are being finalized.

Nichols served as Douglas County manager for 15 months between September 2014 and January 2016.

The separation deal he had with Rifle sounds similar to the mutual separation agreement he had with Douglas County commissioners.

While Nichols initiated the request, commissioners agreed that both parties were seeking the separation.

At a Nov. 4, 2015, performance review, Nichols said he felt he hadn’t met the expectations of county commissioners as a whole.

Nichols received $115,346 in severance, which amounted to six months salary plus accrued medical and vacation.

At the time, Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Doug Ritchie said that if commissioners were to terminate Nichols’ contract, they would have had to provide him with two months notice, during which he would continue to be paid and then he would receive six months severance.

County Manager Larry Werner was appointed to take over for him, and has been in the position for two years now.

He was one of four finalists for the Douglas County job, and had been a finalist when Werner retired as Carson City manager in 2013.

Prior to taking the Rifle job, Nichols had been a teacher in China for a year and a half.

Yet another search for an interim city manager, as well as a permanent replacement, will begin immediately. Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein has assumed the role of acting city manager.

Reasons for the city’s separation with Nichols were not made public. Nichols could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mayor Barbara Clifton said Thursday she was limited because it is a personnel matter, but that there was a realization on both sides that it was not a good fit.

“We have to move forward,” she added.