Friday, October 5, 2007

Colorado recruits Ketchum city manager

LeBlanc finalist for Durango job

Express Staff Writer

Ron LeBlanc

Ketchum City Administrator Ron LeBlanc is one of four final candidates for the city manager job in the southwestern Colorado ski town of Durango.

LeBlanc confirmed that he is on the short list of four candidates and that he and the other three candidates will have final interviews with city staff and councilors and a public reception on Oct. 17 and 18.

Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall and City Council members learned of LeBlanc's plans on Wednesday, Oct. 3. LeBlanc said his interest in the Durango job was spurred by recent actions at City Hall.

"He (Mayor Hall) wants to be a full-time mayor, and I don't know what that means to my future," LeBlanc said. "Durango is a very attractive community."

LeBlanc, in fact, has worked in Colorado before.

"It has a college, access to biking, skiing and all the outdoor amenities that I enjoy here," he said.

A recently adopted ordinance increased the Ketchum mayor's salary from $15,000 to $30,000 annually, and there have been several City Council discussions on the need for a full-time mayor.

Hall said he would wait and see what happens.

"If Ron has decided to make a change we would certainly support it," he said. "He's played a big role in what's been going on."

The search firm of Peckham & McKenney recruited LeBlanc, and an initial pool of about 60 candidates was culled to 10. The Durango City Council announced the four finalists at its Tuesday, Oct. 2, council meeting after a closed session the night before. Peckham & McKenney is a Sacramento, Calif., based firm providing executives searches for local government agencies.

The other finalists are Greg Clifton, town manager of Ridgeway, Colo.; William Ray, Jr. deputy city manager in Arvada, Colo.; and Scott Trainor, city manager of Ontario, Ore. The new manager will replace former City Manager Bob Ledger, who retired this summer after 24 years in that position. The Durango City Council will appoint the new city manager.

During Tuesday's council meeting a Durango resident complained about what she called a lack of public involvement in the selection process, but mayor Doug Lyon said it was standard procedure to not make names final until late in the process, said a published report in the Durango Herald.

LeBlanc, 53, has been city administrator in Ketchum for about five years. He previously served as the top administrator in the Groton, Conn.; Springfield, Ore.; and Olathe, Kan.; and he was deputy city manager in Arvada, Colo. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College.

Durango, in La Plata County, has an estimated population of 15,500. It has a $100 million annual budget compared to a $10 million operating budget in Ketchum. Durango has 300 employees versus 95 for Ketchum. LeBlanc said that Durango's city manager salary is comparable to his current salary of about $140,000.

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