City Council selects 6 city manager finalists | SteamboatToday.com

City Council selects 6 city manager finalists

Search firm says it could be weeks before finalists' names are released

The City Council has selected the candidates it would like to interview for City Manager.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday selected six city manager finalists following an hour-long executive session.

But a representative from the search firm the city is paying to recruit the next manager said it could be weeks before he will allow the public to get to know the finalists beyond their designations as candidates No. 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9.

Steamboat Today was anticipating a much shorter time frame.

Under the Colorado Open Records Act, the city is only able to keep the names of city manager applicants confidential until they are deemed finalists.

The law states that “finalist” means “an applicant or candidate for an executive position as the chief executive officer of a state agency, institution, or political subdivision or agency thereof who is a member of the final group of applicants or candidates made public …”

Anne Small, the city’s director of general services, said it was her understanding that, not only do the candidates have to accept the status of finalist before their names can be released, but they also have to undergo background checks before becoming finalists.

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The law does not mention background checks as a requirement for being a finalist.

The law does state that the city must publicly release a list of finalists no later than 14 days prior to hiring a finalist.

In 2006, seven city manager finalists were publicly named two days after the City Council selected the finalists.

Asked about the timeline and the reason for the delay in announcing the finalists publicly, Slavin Management Consultants Western Region Manager Paul Wenbert said he did not want to be quoted and was not authorized to discuss the search process with the media.

In its vote to select the finalists from a list of 10 semi-finalists, the council only mentioned them by their numbers.

City Attorney Dan Foote said he would meet with Wenbert and provide a more clear timeline for the release of the finalists’ names.

When told after the meeting about Wenbert’s estimate for releasing the names of the finalists, Council President Walter Magill said he was surprised.

“I don’t think that’s very acceptable,” he said of the prospect of the names not being released until shortly before the candidates come to interview here in late April or early May. “I want a shorter timeline. We want a reason for the delay, and I’m surprised by the fact it will take several weeks. We thought they had vetted the (finalists) already.”

It is Slavin’s policy not to release information to the media or answer questions about the search process. The firm has said city staff must answer all questions and release information regarding the search.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time there has been a lengthy delay in getting public information about the ongoing city manager search process.

In late February, Steamboat Today asked Small to disclose how many people had applied for the job shortly after the Feb. 22 deadline for submitting resumes had passed.

She said she would have to check with Slavin and inform the council before that information went public.

That information wasn’t released to the newspaper until last week.

Also on Tuesday, the council decided how the community will be involved in the search process.

A seven-member committee of citizens will interview the finalists.

The group will include members from the lodging, banking, utility, nonprofit and downtown business communities.

It will also include a member of the Steamboat Today’s editorial board and one other at-large citizen.

Community members will also be able to meet the finalists at an open house.

The council still has to decide whether to hold its interviews with the finalists in public or closed session.

Wenbert told the council he couldn’t recall a time he’s ever seen interviews conducted in open session due to the potential for the council to ask candidates about previous controversies or lawsuits.

Magill, however, noted that City Council interviewed city manager finalists in public the last time it used a search firm.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10