Steamboat Springs' next city manager should be savvy, flexible and willing to challenge the City Council, council members said Thursday during their daylong retreat.
During the retreat, council members met with Phil McKenney of the search firm Peckham & McKenney and shared thoughts about what characteristics the ideal city manager candidate would possess.
The council is searching for a new manager because it voted to terminate former city manager Paul Hughes' contract. Hughes had planned to remain city manager until his replacement was found.
The council appointed deputy city manager Wendy DuBord to serve as interim city manager while the search is being conducted. DuBord said Thursday that she does not plan to make herself a candidate for the opening.
Council member Towny Anderson had several ideas about the ideal city manager. He said he wanted to hire a manager who could handle unprecedented growth and issues related to second-home owners. The manager should work well with employees and have strong managerial skills, Anderson said. He also wanted to hire someone who has experience with Main Street Steamboat Springs programs and promotes progressive thinking, such as incorporating environmentally friendly technology.
"That alignment is critical," Anderson said.
Council member Susan Dell--inger said she wanted a manager who understands that he or she cannot make everyone happy. She wants to hire a manager who supports the council and city staff, is accessible and gives a lot of feedback. Dellinger also stressed that the manager should not come into the position with predetermined ideas about how the city should operate. Instead, she said, the manager should be flexible and capable of change.
Council President Ken Brenner said he wanted to hire someone who increases interaction between the council and city staff.
According to the city charter, the council cannot direct the city manager's staff, but council members can ask staff members questions. Brenner said he wants to increase the opportunities to ask questions. Also, he said, the city manager should have great communication skills and that he or she should have knowledge and experience with issues related to workforce housing.
Brenner also said he wanted a manager who engages and challenges the council. One way to do this, he said, is to educate council about the pros and cons of an issue or an action.
McKenney said he would use council members' comments to develop a brochure profiling Steamboat and the type of manager the council desires. The council will review the profile before sending it to print. The search firm's consultants will spend about six weeks reaching out to candidates, and they hope to close the search by about March 1.
The consultants will review the candidates for two or three weeks, then narrow down the pool to about 10. The council will select six to eight of those candidates for interviews in April. The council and the firm plan to include a citizens group in the final interview process.
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