Friday, May 23, 2008

Who’s on deck?

As Jaquet steps down, Ketchum awaits decision on new administrator

Express Staff Writer

Jim Jaquet stepped down from the position of interim city administrator on Thursday. He said the search for his full-time replacement would likely end early next week. Photo by Mountain Express

As Ketchum interim City Administrator Jim Jaquet readies himself for a retirement that includes a spring full of baseball, Mayor Randy Hall and the City Council continue to try to bring his replacement out of the bullpen.

While Ketchum officials completed interviews with their five finalists for the city's top staff position on Tuesday, Councilman Baird Gourlay said Wednesday that the field has been narrowed to two and that the city is in the midst of negotiating with the top choice.

The name of the preferred candidate has not been released, but all five résumés boasted impressive experience.

Rob Campbell has been county administrator for Archuleta, Colo., home of the Pagosa Springs resort, for the past two years.

Frank Bell, who holds a doctorate in political science and a master's in public administration, is currently town manager of Telluride, Colo.

Susan Robertson, the lone female candidate, is village manager of Fox Point, Wisc.

Henry Lawrence has been city manager of Edgewood, Wash., since 1998.

And Gary Marks has spent nine years as city manager of Whitefish, Mont.

Gourlay said he expected housing cost to be a significant issue in the negotiations, but declined to comment on how much the city expects to spend on a housing allowance for the new administrator.

Jaquet said the salary range for the job falls between $119,421 and $153,102 and includes medical benefits.

By comparison, the city of Sun Valley announced last week that its new administrator, Sharon Hammer, will earn a base salary of $110,000 annually, in addition to health benefits and a $1,000-per-month housing allowance.

Jaquet said officials would likely come to an agreement by early next week.

"It's also about making sure the city gets the right fit in order to ensure the longevity of the new administrator," Jaquet said. "They don't want to have to go through this extensive process again."

Regardless of when his replacement takes over in City Hall, Jaquet begins his second retirement today. After serving as city administrator from 1977-2002, he was asked to fill in as interim since the beginning of the year.

"It's hard to say you've accomplished much in less than five months," he said. "I've just been trying to keep things going."

However, he has more than enough experience in the city to know the challenges in store for his successor.

Jaquet said that affordable housing, economic development and the future of Town Plaza, the four city lots to the south of Giacobbi Square, will all be critical issues in the near future.

"A hotel or hotels will be an important part of the economic vitality of our community," he said. "The city depends on sales-tax dollars, and without them, we wouldn't be able to make any improvements, such as the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor."

As Jaquet oversaw the start of the second phase of the Fourth Street project, which began at the end of April, he has agreed to remain an active participant and will work part time on the project when he returns after two weeks of vacation. Jaquet said his role will be to ensure that this phase of the project continues to go smoothly. That means making sure the bills are paid, taking care of any problems that arise and making sure the contractor sticks to having the majority of the work completed by July 2 so the street can be used during the Fourth on Fourth celebration.

Jaquet will also remain on the board of Mountain Rides as Blaine County's representative, as well as work with the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society.

He said he will be spending a good portion of his time watching and playing baseball, his favorite pastime.

"I'll be down at Atkinson Park in the batting cage taking my licks," said Jaquet, who plays second base for the Coors Light Cobras because "they're the only team that will select me."

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