Scant turnout for city manager discussion


— The Steamboat Springs City Council had a hard time moving past its old city manager at a Tuesday meeting intended to discuss its next one.

And while city officials extensively advertised a community meeting to discuss residents' desired qualities in the next city manager, a meager three people turned out to do so. Former City Manager Alan Lanning reached a severance agreement with the City Council in July. Al Choy was the first of three residents to speak about his replacement at Tuesday's meeting. Choy said city departments run very well on their own, and he stressed the need for a more hands-off and customer-service-oriented city manager, qualities he apparently thought were lacking in Lanning.

"We don't need another guy who thinks he's a genius," Choy said. "We need someone who will listen."

Councilman Steve Ivancie, obviously annoyed by Choy's criticisms of Lanning, rose to the former city manager's defense.

"One reason our departments run so well is because our city manager went out and hired good people," Ivancie said.

Stuart Orzach was the next resident to speak, and when he praised Lanning, Ivancie asked him to expound. Orzach said he was unsure how to provide council any advice on what to look for in its next city manager when it still is unclear exactly why Lanning's employment came to an end. He described Lanning as competent and intelligent, and he said the former city manager lacked only clear direction from City Council to do his job effectively.

Orzach accused Steamboat of having a "lynch mob mentality," and wondered aloud "how are you going to get someone of the caliber we just had?"

"We let out a press release about what went on," City Council President Loui Antonucci said in one of many attempts to redirect the conversation. "And that's about as far as we're going to go on that."

Michael Turner was the third and only other resident to speak at Tuesday's meeting. Like Choy, he urged council to hire a city manager who will be a good listener. Turner said the next city manager should take the time to understand the community before initiating sweeping changes. He cautioned against a city manager who would make changes simply to justify his or her promotion to a new position.

At the end of Tuesday's meeting, council members chose five residents and a city employee to serve on their City Manager Search Committee. Along with executive search firm Peckham & McKenney, that committee will help City Council select its next city manager. Council interviewed about 20 candidates earlier in the night.

The committee's city employee representative is Robbie Shine of the Department of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services. The resident members are Steve Dawes, Michael Forney, Bart Kounovsky, Rob Mitchell and Reed Morris. While Forney lives outside the city limits in Routt County, a recent change to city codes allows for city board and commission memberships to be 20 percent comprised of Routt County residents who live outside the city.

After a stalemate about whether to appoint Kounovsky or former City Councilman Richard Tremaine, council agreed to appoint Tremaine as a nonvoting advisory member of the committee.


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