City manager finalists talk about position | SteamboatToday.com
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City manager finalists talk about position

Jon Roberts
John F. Russell

Finalists

Bob McLaurin

Current job: Town manager, town of Jackson, Wyo., 2003-present

Employees: 130

Budget: $42 million

Age: 55

Family: Married with three children ages 25, 22 and 16

In his words: "My mode of operation is - unless there's something broke badly - I like to get to know the people, the issues and the organization before I willy-nilly start making changes."

Jon Roberts

Current job: City manager, city of Victorville, Calif., 1999-present

Employees: 440 full-time, 220 part-time

Budget: $560 million

Age: 53

Family: Married with three children ages 23, 20 and 18

In his words: "I know how to bring stability to an organization. I think that's something Steamboat needs. There's been a high level of turnover in the staff, and some of that is still going on today."

Source: The candidates

and their resumes

— The two finalists to be the city’s next top administrator have different feelings about the fact that Steamboat Springs has lost two city managers in less than three years.

“It’s a little bit of concern. At the same time, there’s turbulence in all these ski towns. You have to be able to manage the interests,” said Bob McLaurin, town manager in Jackson, Wyo. “I’m not overly concerned about it, but it is an issue, the turnover you’ve had there.”

But Jon Roberts, city manager in Victorville, Calif., said the controversial departures of former city managers Paul Hughes and Alan Lanning do not give him pause. Roberts said he would focus on the process of government in the job he hopes to win and keep for 10 to 15 years.



“To me, a city manager’s primary goal is to focus on the process of government,” said Roberts. “Irrespective of the diversity of the opinions in the community, as long as people think the process is fair : they’re more accepting of it.”

Roberts said he also wouldn’t hesitate to have his pay cut in half. He earns about $295,000 in Victorville, while the city of Steamboat Springs is offering $140,000 to $180,000. Roberts said his high level of pay is the result of the fact that, in addition to typical city manager duties, he has overseen the redevelopment of the George Air Force Base that closed in the early 1990s.



“I did what I set out to do. I’m ready to go somewhere else and put my city manager skills to use,” Roberts said. “I see this as probably the greatest challenge of my career. : Honestly, I think if you could achieve the vision this community has for itself, it would be the envy of any community in the nation.”

Roberts denied a report last year in the Victorville Daily Press that he agreed to stay with that city until July 2010 as a result of contract negotiations last year.

Jackson certainly is more similar to Steamboat Springs than Victorville. But McLaurin stopped short of saying that would give him an advantage against Roberts.

“I’ve been managing mountain ski towns since about 1990,” said McLaurin, a former town manager of Vail. “I’m pretty familiar with mountain town issues. : I don’t think I’m going to see any issues that will be completely new to me.”

Accomplishments McLaurin noted on his resume include:

– Managed downtown parking through such methods as overseeing the design, financing and construction of an $11 million downtown parking structure and initiated an effort to fund downtown parking with a special purpose tax passed by voters

– Developed an affordable housing project with a private partnership that resulted in 22 deed-restricted units whose subsidy was minimized by the inclusion of several free-market units

Accomplishments Roberts noted on his resume include:

– Supplied more than 1,200 units of low- and moderate-income housing

– Executed a public-private partnership for the nation’s first privately financed high-speed rail project including a 30,000-acre master-planned development. Construction is scheduled for next year.


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