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[edited by: martinibuster at 6:29 pm (utc) on Nov. 24, 2006]
[edit reason] Removed Specifics. [/edit]
But in answer to your question, I would opt for a template coded with CSS. Those are the most SEO friendly.
Your Best solution is to learn how to do it yourself. Even if you don't actually do it yourself, you will be much more knowledgeable when it comes to hiring someone and getting what you really want.
As with so many things in SEO, it's all about risk. The more the template that you select is being used elsewhere, the more likely it might be to resemble sites that are being used for spam. I don't frankly think that this is a huge risk, but the risk is variable.
For example, if you choose a site that was templated specificially for, say, Web widgets, and 17 Web widget resellers grabbed it already, then you're the 18th site out there trying to resell Web widgets with a site looking very much like 17 other Web widget sites, that's also likely to have the same set of Web widget keywords. Why risk that?
So, either substantially modify the template, or roll your own. My 2 cents anyway.
Anyway, my 2 cents is that a template is not necessarily bad for SEO. It can be nice if you don't know how or have the time to hand-code CSS and HTML.
Just a heads up because I've seen this a couple times since too. Most common with popular CMSs like Joomla probably.