City plans schedule for manager hire

Council considering public interviews of finalists, to be held week of Dec. 8

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It will be at least December before the city of Steamboat Springs hires its next city manager, according to a schedule laid out Thursday by Phil McKenney of executive search firm Peckham & McKenney.

McKenney met with the Steamboat Springs City Council during lunch Thursday to provide an update on city manager search efforts so far. McKenney said heavy advertising for the position will begin in October, with an application closing deadline of Nov. 10. On Nov. 25, McKenney will present council with a list of 10 to 12 potential finalists, which council will whittle down to six finalists to bring to Steamboat for interviews the week of Dec. 8.

McKenney and council discussed several other logistical matters, such as how influential a role the recently seated City Manager Search Committee will play. The committee is made up of five local residents and one city employee.

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski also encouraged fellow council members to consider interviewing their finalists in person, rather than in executive, or secret, session.

"I don't want to conduct public business in executive session," she said. "I would want a city manager who has that same kind of ethic."

Other council members ex-pressed reservations about the idea, noting that potential applicants might be turned off by it.

"I don't want the executive session issue to keep us from getting the best candidates," Councilwoman Meg Bentley said.

Council President Loui Antonucci agreed.

"I don't know if you'd ask the same questions," he said. "I don't know if you'd get the same answers. I don't want to inhibit the process."

Council ultimately decided to have City Attorney Tony Lettunich perform research and provide an opinion on the matter. Hermacinski said she wasn't convinced that interviews would fall under a provision that makes executive sessions legal for matters concerning personnel.

"Really, they're not personnel because they haven't been hired yet," she said. "We need to have a really strong opinion from our attorney telling us we need to go into executive session."

Former City Manager Alan Lanning reached a severance agreement with the City Council in July. Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord is serving as the acting city manager.

After several interviews with various community members, McKenney said he found that while council members and staff seemed focused on the next city manager's management skills, other members of the community hoped the next city manager would be an active and recognizable member of the community outside of the office.

When council settles on its six finalists, McKenney suggested several methods for measuring applicants' interpersonal skills, such as holding a community reception with them on the night before their interviews and taking note of how they interact with residents.

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