Jon Roberts, the city manager of Victorville, Calif., and Bob McLaurin, the town manager of Jackson, Wyo., have been named finalists for the city of Steamboat Springs' open city manager position.

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Jon Roberts, the city manager of Victorville, Calif., and Bob McLaurin, the town manager of Jackson, Wyo., have been named finalists for the city of Steamboat Springs' open city manager position.

2 city manager finalists chosen

Candidates McLaurin, Roberts lead very different communities

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By the numbers

- Population

Steamboat Springs: 9,516

Jackson, Wyo.: 9,631

Victorville, Calif.: 107,221

- Foreign-born residents

Steamboat Springs: 6.2%

Jackson: 9.6%

Victorville: 17.8%

- Median age

Steamboat Springs: 32.4

Jackson: 30.8

Victorville: 28.2

- Median household income Steamboat Springs: $54,647*

Jackson: $47,757*

Victorville: $48,462**

- Owner-occupied homes median value

Steamboat Springs: $308,100 Jackson: $260,600

Victorville: $296,700

* in 1999 dollars

** in 2007 inflation-adjusted dollars

- Source: U.S. Census Bureau

— If nothing else, Steamboat Springs' next city manager will have a healthy appreciation of extreme weather.

Officials announced Wednesday the two finalists to become the city's top administrator and the chief liaison between the Steamboat Springs City Council and city staff. They are Jon Roberts, city manager of Victorville, Calif., and Bob McLaurin, town manager of Jackson, Wyo. The Steamboat Springs City Council will interview its finalists in public in early January.

"We're going to have final interviews the first week of January," City Council President Loui Antonucci said, "so it's probably proper that I don't say anything except we're very fortunate to have two very qualified candidates."

The men seek to replace former City Manager Alan Lanning, who reached a severance agreement with the city earlier this year.

Councilman Scott Myller said he is "absolutely thrilled" about both candidates.

"I think both of them have the potential of doing what we wanted our city manager to do: be a good spokesman for our city and lead the charge," Myller said.

Neither McLaurin nor Roberts returned messages left on their cell phones Wednesday evening. City offices in Victorville closed at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday because of snow.

Besides that Victorville and Jackson have seen snow this week, they have little else in common. Jackson is a ski resort community of similar size and economic makeup to Steamboat. Victorville has a population of more than 100,000 and its chief tourist attraction is the California Route 66 Museum.

One other similarity, however, is that both communities are served by a regional transportation authority, an idea being considered in the Yampa Valley.

Victorville is located 81 miles northeast of Los Angeles at the southern edge of the Mojave Desert. The city grew 9.5 percent in 2007, giving it the second highest growth rate in the country that year. One of Roberts' main areas of focus has been a planned hybrid gas and solar power plant that would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and the largest in the world. Legal and financial issues, however, have sidelined the $700 million to $800 million project.

Last year, the Victorville Daily News reported that Roberts negotiated a 21 percent pay increase with the Victorville City Council, bringing his yearly salary to about $295,000. The newspaper reported that Roberts agreed to stay until July 2010 as part of the negotiations.

The city of Steamboat Springs is offering an annual salary of $140,000 to $180,000 - plus benefits that could include housing assistance, a performance bonus or both - for the position of city manager.

Jackson is in the Jackson Hole valley of Teton County, Wyo., and a popular tourist gateway to a variety of public lands. Like Steamboat officials, McLaurin has had to propose massive budget cuts for 2009 because of declining revenues, mainly sales tax, according to the Jackson Hole Daily. Jackson's 19 percent drop in sales tax in September 2008 compared to September 2007, however, is larger than any decrease Steamboat has seen.

McLaurin also has lobbied Wyoming state officials to consider a real estate transfer tax, the newspaper reported. Such a tax, levied on real estate transactions, has been proposed by a number of developers in Steamboat as a way to fund affordable housing initiatives.

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