118 try for city manager spot

Flood of applicants vying to be Steamboat's top administrator

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At a glance

City manager search schedule:

Application filing deadline: Nov. 10

Preliminary interviews:

Nov. 11 to today

Recommendation of candidates: Monday

Semi-finalist interview process:

Dec. 10 to 11

Finalist interview process: Jan. 6 to 7

Source: Peckham & McKenney Executive Search and Consulting

On the 'Net

Visit www.peckhamandmck... to view materials being used in the city of Steamboat Springs' search for a new city manager.

— An application deadline to become Steamboat Springs' next city manager has passed, and 118 people have applied for the job of the city's top administrator.

Phil McKenney, of executive search firm Peckham & McKenney, said he is pleasantly surprised by the high level of interest in the position, which, in addition to the city attorney, is one of only two that report directly to the Steamboat Springs City Council.

"Given today's climate, I'm very pleased," said McKenney. "This is more than I expected."

McKenney is in the process of interviewing and screening the applicants. He later will present to City Council 10 to 12 candidates he thinks deserve consideration. With the help of a group of residents serving on a City Manager Search Committee, council will whittle the list down to six semifinalists. After interviews, the list will be further reduced to three finalists whose identities will be made public. On Jan. 6 and 7, City Council will interview its finalists in a public setting.

Neither McKenney nor city officials had specific numbers, but City Council President Loui Antonucci estimated the amount of applicants is three times larger than the number who applied for the post in 2006. Alan Lanning was hired at the end of that search. He reached a severance agreement with the city earlier this year.

Antonucci guessed the manner in which City Council fired Lanning's predecessor, Paul Hughes, may have made potential applicants leery of the job.

Hughes served as Steamboat's city manager from 1998 to December 2005. He was fired in a surprising action at the end of a late-night City Council meeting. Hughes already had announced his plans to retire and had offered to continue working until his replacement was found. Former Councilman Towny Anderson later publicly apologized for the way Hughes' termination was handled.

McKenney said this round's applicants come from the public and private sectors from across the U.S. and even London. Councilwoman Cari Hemacinski said a weakening global economy also might explain the high number of applicants.

"There's some people that are really intrigued by government or are trying to get out of private life in this climate," she said.

Although other open positions at City Hall are frozen because of financial constraints, interim City Manager Wendy DuBord laughed at the idea that City Council might delay its hiring of a city manager because of budget woes.

"I doubt that," DuBord said. "An organization like the city of Steamboat Springs needs to have a city manager."

But City Council could delay the hiring for other reasons. Antonucci and Hermacinski said they wouldn't want to hire a city manager unless they get a great candidate.

"I really think that if we don't find a candidate we really want, we would ask Wendy to stick around," Hermacinski said. "If we don't find exactly what we're looking for, there's a chance we wouldn't go through with this hire."

DuBord said she would continue in her interim role for as long as necessary.

"I'm not going to leave anybody in the lurch," said DuBord, the city's deputy city manager. "I will fill this position until they find somebody else to fill it."

The city 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.

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