In a City Hall where there hasn't been a lot of turnover in the past eight years, 1998 is bringing a major change to the face of municipal government.
Uh, maybe you better make that "faces" of municipal government.The city is already looking for two new department heads to replace departing City Attorney Craig Hall and power department director John Mohlman, who is moving to a new position.
And there will be a third department head post opening up when long-time police chief Kenneth Killian retires later this year.
Now add those changes to the recent facial alterations resulting from the arrivals of a new mayor, his new chief of staff and two new council members.
Granted, those shifts may not seem extraordinary by the standards of some cities.
But it is unusual in Murray, long-viewed as a model of municipal stability and a place where the faces change about as often as the ones on Mount Rushmore.
Hall is leaving the city March 6 to take the city attorney post in South Salt Lake, which has contracted with a private firm for legal services over the past year.
D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, the mayor's chief of staff, said the city is looking for a successor but probably won't open the job for applications. Randy Hart, deputy city attorney, will be acting city attorney in the interim.
However, nationwide searches will be conducted for a new power department director and police chief, she said.
Mayor Dan Snarr said the departure of Hall, who has served as city attorney for 23 years, will create a challenge for Murray because of his legal expertise and leadership in environmental cleanup issues.
However, city officials have indicated they hope to retain Hall's services on a part-time consulting basis as Murray moves to clean up the old American Smelter and Refining site over the next 12 to 18 months.
"Craig was instrumental in getting the city designated as the lead agency on the cleanup . . . and keeping the smelter site off the Superfund list," said Snarr. "He has created a model here that can be used to clean up other sites."
The mayor said Hall had several offers last summer to work for large local law firms as well as South Salt Lake, and finally decided to end his association with Murray City.
Snarr said he has asked Mohlman to administer the city's newly formed telecommunications department, a one-man office charged with developing a successful citywide fiber optics telecommunication network.
"This would be a first in Utah," he said. "We think John has the background and expertise in telecommunication needed . . . to expand the fiber optics system that is already being used by the city.
"I don't look at this as a demotion," the mayor added. "I look at it as an opportunity to help keep our city on the leading edge of telecommunications."
Snarr said Killian, who has been with the city for 39 years, previously announced he would retire July 1. But the mayor said that date may be delayed for a time because of the recent death of the police chief's wife.
"We'll discuss it with Ken and make a decision later," he added. "The city will miss him - he's really been creative with his approaches" to police work.