City manager plans to retire

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— Steamboat Springs City Manager Paul Hughes has announced his plans to retire.

Hughes, who has been city manager for 7 1/2 years, sent an e-mail to city employees Wednesday stating his decision. Hughes has agreed to remain in the position until the City Council hires his replacement.

Hughes has 21 years of experience in city management, including positions in the Vermont cities of Ludlow, Stowe and Windsor. He also worked in higher education for 20 years.

Hughes plans to remain in Steamboat, but he said he isn't sure what he will do next.

"I certainly will not be going anywhere soon," he said Wed--nesday. "I expect to be around for some time.

"I can hardly wait to see what I'm doing for the next 20 years."

Hughes has talked with City Council members about his plans. He decided to hold off on his retirement announcement until after Election Day, which was Tuesday. He said his retirement is not related to the election. Hughes received his 20-year pin and credentialed manager status during a conference last month.

"It just seemed like a good time, especially with a new council getting seated, to be moving on to something else," he said.

City Council President Paul Strong said Hughes was a great city manager.

"Paul is a wonderful person: extremely ethical, very smart, very analytical, an incredible manager," Strong said. "Running a city is a very difficult job. It's like running a large business, but there is also the whole political arena to deal with."

Hughes thinks -- with confirmation from others -- that Steamboat is one of the best-run cities in the state. That's a compliment to all city employees, he said.

"It pleases me most that our reserves are at an all-time high, and at the same time we have built a large number of really important and overdue city facilities," he said, identifying the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, the tennis center, Centennial Hall and miles of the Yampa River Core Trail.

"As a member of the city's management team, Paul always kept an open-door policy and was willing to listen to new ideas," City Clerk Julie Jordan said.

"Overall, I think he has been a consistent and thoughtful city manager for our community, especially in these eight years of rapid community growth."

The City Council is responsible for hiring a new manager, Strong said. In the past, officials advertised the job nationwide, and a citizens committee narrowed down the list of nominees before the council reviewed them.

Hiring can take as long as six months. Strong said he was pleased that Hughes is willing to work until the process is complete.

"He was generous enough to give us notice to do our exhaustive search for a new manager," Strong said.

"I certainly will not be going anywhere soon. I expect to be around for some time," Hughes said.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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