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Granite Shoals appoints interim city manager and secretary

Susan Nevills (left) and Peggy Smith with Judge Frank Reilly

Susan Nevills (left) and Peggy Smith were sworn into their interim positions for the city of Granite Shoals by Municipal Judge Frank Reilly during the City Council's special meeting on June 23. Nevills will be the interim city secretary and Smith the interim city manager. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals City Council appointed Peggy Smith as interim city manager during a special meeting Tuesday, June 23. She takes over the role after the council voted to terminate Jeff Looney’s contract on June 14 as the result of disciplinary action due to his professional conduct.

Smith is the current assistant city manager.

Mayor Will Skinner made the motion to appoint Smith as interim city manager, and Councilor Phil Ort seconded it. The council unanimously approved the motion with the exception of Councilor Ron Munos, who was absent. 

“Peggy has been here for a long time, and she has got all the experience,” Skinner said. “Right now, we’re going into budget season, and that’s one of the biggest components. She’s done it a long time.”

The fiscal year for Granite Shoals begins on Oct. 1, and a budget must be approved by the City Council prior to that date.

Smith has served as assistant city manager for more than nine years. She was appointed interim city manager in 2018 after Ken Nickel resigned from the job.

As interim city manager, Smith will have the powers and responsibilities of the position as well as those of assistant city manager. 

The city manager acts as the chief administrative officer for the city, overseeing the activities of all city departments, managing the budget, planning, forming policies, and implementing the will of the council.

“My focus right now is to get this city back together,” Smith said. “We have had several months of turmoil, and we want to get some continuity back.”

The council began evaluating the professional performance of former City Manager Jeff Looney in February. Clashes between Looney and councilors took place during multiple meetings, and a disciplinary action committee was formed to address his conduct. This ultimately led to Looney’s termination.

“I hate that we’re in the situation that we are, but the city needs to move forward,” Smith said.

Smith’s first action as interim city manager was to recommend that Susan Nevills, the current Granite Shoals city accountant and deputy court clerk, be made interim city secretary.

The council approved the recommendation.

Former City Secretary Elaine Simpson resigned in May.

“Not having a city secretary has been difficult for us these last few weeks,” Skinner said. “We went with Susan because she’s been with us for almost ten years.” 

The city secretary is the primary contact for the City Council. They are responsible for preparing and coordinating agenda items, conducting communication between the council and its constituents, keeping meeting minutes, and signing off on all documentation.

According to Skinner, the council will choose permanent positions for city manager and city secretary at a later date.

“What we’re trying to do is get through the budget season first,” the mayor said. “If we rush the process, we’re going to end up with a city manager that doesn’t know the job and doesn’t know the city and we’re going to be right back in the same boat.”

Both Smith and Nevills will receive a bump in pay to compensate them for the increase in responsibilities and workload.

The Granite Shoals City Council holds its regular meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.