Granite Shoals City Manager Jeff Looney (left) prepares to leave Council Chambers after the City Council voted to terminate his contract at its regular meeting June 14, 2022. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
Granite Shoals City Manager Jeff Looney lost his job after the City Council voted to terminate his contract at its regular meeting Tuesday, June 14. The termination came as the result of disciplinary action for Looney’s professional conduct and continuing conflict with Councilor Samantha Ortis that stretched back to February of this year.
After an executive session that lasted over an hour and a half, the council emerged and Councilor Phil Ort moved to terminate Looney’s contract. Ortis seconded the motion, and Mayor Will Skinner took a roll call vote. With the exception of Councilor Steve Hougen, who was absent and unable to connect through Zoom at the time, all members of the council voted for the termination.
The City Council first met to evaluate Looney’s conduct and performance at a special meeting called on Feb. 1. The meeting resulted in no disciplinary action, but Looney read aloud a letter during open session, defending himself and claiming he was the target of a “witch hunt.” The letter referenced recent friction between himself and Ortis inside and outside of City Hall.
Ortis claimed in her remarks and a written response the day after that meeting that several unnamed city employees had come to council members complaining of Looney’s treatment of them.
“They’re afraid to file formal grievances because of the threat from Mr. Looney of retaliation,” Ortis said. “These employees are fearful of their jobs and are upset.”
As Looney packed his things, he claimed to have resigned prior to the meeting, but City Attorney Joshua Katz explained that his resignation was conditional upon receiving certain payments, which were not made.
Looney asked that his severance package be paid immediately since his termination was effective immediately.
“All I can say is that the city is going to work to provide that severance package as quickly as we can,” Katz said.
The council intends to discuss finding an interim city manager at its next meeting, which is at 6 p.m. June 28 at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.