City Council defends makeup of city manager interview committee
April 8, 2016
Steamboat Springs — A majority of the people who will serve on the citizens’ panel that will help choose Steamboat Springs’ next city manager also sit together on the board of directors for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
Asked Thursday whether the presence of five Chamber board members on the seven-member panel caused them any concern in the wake of recent public criticism about the panel selection process and the panel not including more average Joes and skeptics of city government, some council members defended the committee’s makup.
"The council discussion of identifying members of the citizens' interview panel started with identifying segments of the community who have broad experience, not only with interviewing skills, but who represent a diverse cross-section of the community, such as education, government, non-profit, media, finance, general business, as well as including an at-large citizen," Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said.
Meyer noted the council itself has two members who sit on the Chamber board.
Council President Walter Magill said Friday he was unaware so many of the members of the citizens’ panel serve together on the 33-member Chamber board, adding that the common thread between the panel members was worthy of discussion.
"We selected the members for their present jobs in the organizations, which also provide governance," Magill said. "I will share with council this internal relationship with the committee and let the council discuss if we want to make changes."
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Councilman Scott Ford said that, because he didn’t attend the meeting at which the council created the citizens’ interview panel, he would not comment on the selection process.
Council members Tony Connell, Heather Sloop and Robin Crossan did not return messages seeking comment.
The citizens’ interview panel will include Chamber board vice president Adonna Allen and Chamber board members Rex Brice, Mark Walker, Tom Sullivan, and Brad Meeks.
Sullivan, Routt County manager, and Meeks, superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District, are non-voting members on the Chamber board.
Walker was appointed to the committee to represent the lodging community, while Brice was selected to represent downtown business owners.
Allen was selected to represent the banking community.
Councilman Jason Lacy said citizens will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in on the selection of the city manager in early May, when the four finalists attend a public open house.
"The combination of broad public input from the open house, feedback from the citizens' interview panel, feedback from the city management team (which will also interview the candidates) and council's separate interviews with each candidate should ensure that we obtain a full spectrum of opinions on who is best suited to be our next city manager," Lacy said.
Both Sloop and Steamboat resident Scott Wedel have been critical of the makeup of the citizens’ panel.
Sloop said the council gets “tunnel vision” when forming committees and “chooses the same people every time.”
Wedel said the council should have been looking out more for the interests of the average voter when it decided who should be on the committee, instead of including such things as business interests.
"I am greatly concerned about the public process being very inadaquate and unfair to what I would consider skeptics who might question the person who might become the next city manager," Wedel said.
The seating of the citizens’ panel came days before the Chamber’s leadership approached the council seeking $100,000 of city money to fund a new group sales program.
The council unanimously denied the full funding request and told the Chamber it needed to find other funding partners before the council would consider making a contribution.
The city currently provides the Chamber with $860,000 each year for marketing efforts.
Of that number, $100,000 is a pass-through for the Special Event program, which the Chamber administers on behalf of the city.