MONTROSE – Out of respect for her privacy, the City of Montrose has not publicized the serious illness of city manager Mary Watt, but she has missed months of work and her leave is running out.
That means that the city will have to make some sort of decision about her future with the city in mid-January, said city spokesman David Spears. Watt has essentially been off the job since June, Spears said, and assistant city manager Scott Sellers was appointed acting city manager on June 3, Spears said. The appointment was not publicized, but was made at a city council meeting, he said.
“As a long-term employee, she is very much appreciated and valued, so the city council will have to work with Mary to see where we progress from here,” he said. “But her leave will run out in January, and at that point in time there will need to be some resolution.”
Watt has cancer, said city council member Bill Patterson, but he said he didn’t know any details; only that she has been undergoing treatment for some time.
“So far we don’t have any real information as far as how she is doing, but we were to meet with her week before last and at the last minute she had to go back to the hospital,” he said.
Patterson said the council is following city policy and honoring Watt’s contract, but a decision will have to be made soon.
“I would like to get across that we do have a city to run and there is a time that we’re going to have to find out from Mary what she wants to do,” he said. “I’m worried that it’s been too long, but it’s time that we as a community need to make a decision and move forward. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is.”
Watt has been a city employee for 37 years, starting in 1973 and serving as city clerk from 1979 to 2004. She was appointed as city manager in August of 2005.
City council member Carol McDermott said Watt’s service has been invaluable.
“Her work as city manager has been exemplary, but her health issues are severe,” she said, adding that Watt has been battling the disease for more than a year and often has to travel to Denver for treatment.
“We as a council need to check with her and see what her intent is and work with what she wants to do and what we need to have done,” she said.
The city has been largely silent about Watt’s condition not only out of respect for her, but also because of personnel and medical privacy rules, Spear said.
“She has been a great manager for me to work with and we hope for the best,” he said. “She has been missed.”