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Steamboat close to hiring new deputy manager

City Manager Gary Suiter is bringing back the deputy city manager position in an effort to better organize and distribute the workload of city staff.
Scott Franz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Gary Suiter took on the official title of city manager for Steamboat Springs not long before the 2016 Olympics commenced in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

He knew — and Steamboat Springs City Council knew — Suiter wasn’t too far away from retirement.

At that time, Suiter declared his bare minimum professional commitment would be until the next summer Olympics.

Now with Tokyo, Japan, on the horizon, Suiter said he’s enjoying the work, city staff and community — and isn’t looking to retire just yet.

However, there is some restructuring underway in the hiring of a new deputy city manager, a position for which was budgeted when Suiter came on board.

At that time, Suiter instead elected to hire a communications manager in order to fill what he saw was a need for increased transparency and community engagement.

“And it worked,” Suiter said, of the decision to hire Mike Lane and goal to “make government more accessible and transparent to the public.”

Over the years, while there still was a need for the duties under a deputy manager position, Suiter said he didn’t want to take that money out of the budget when there were other needs — like for police officers and bus drivers.

However, council made it clear during annual evaluations that they had concerns he was spread too thin, Suiter said.

So, when Director of General Services Alan Lind recently announced his retirement, Suiter saw an opportunity for some “realignment” and shifting of a few titles, roles and departments — such as moving procurement to the finance department.

By making a few small changes, Suiter was able to bring back the deputy manager position without adding to the budget.

 The city began advertising for the position on Jan. 13 and closed the application period on Feb. 7.

With a salary ranging from approximately $120,000 to $147,000, the advertisement gave a job description for “a second-in-charge position and provides leadership and direction for the City Clerk’s office, facilities, information systems, GIS (geographic information systems mapping), communications manager and the Steamboat Springs Urban Renewal Authority and serves a key role in formation of strategic decisions.”

A successful applicant, according to the ad, “will be able to both work cohesively and ethically as part of a high functioning team while leading projects and initiatives independently and be able to assist in the development of future community and organizational visioning.”

As of last week, Suiter said they’d received close to 100 applications from across the country and had narrowed the pool down to about 25 “really qualified people.”

As they narrow those down further, Suiter said the city will announce a finalist and hold a meet and greet.

Council president Jason Lacy said the return of the deputy manager position will not only help take some of direct reports off Suiter’s overloaded plate, but will also help to “build a succession plan.”

And while Suiter emphasized there’s nothing definitive in his plans for the near future, it is beneficial to “always think about succession planning.” However, that doesn’t necessarily mean grooming a successor, he said. From his extensive experience in city management, Suiter said the most valuable way to ensure a seamless transition is to build internal capacity with strong training programs and support systems.   

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.


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