Assistant city manager Barbara Burns is retiring next week after 29 years in Scottsdale government. Her position will join a handful of other administrative posts turning over at City Hall.
City Manager Jan Dolan moved quickly to fill Burns’ job, choosing Human Resources general manager Neal Shearer, who already has taken over some of the assistant city manager’s duties. Burns’ last day will be Nov. 24.
"We’re very much at a loss for Barbara," Dolan said.
Burns had requested retirement earlier this year, but Dolan persuaded her to stay until Scottsdale found a site for the San Francisco Giants’ training facility. While the City Council has not finalized any plans, city employees have nearly completed a deal to construct the spring training facility beside the Scottsdale Stadium site at Osborn Road and Drinkwater Boulevard, Burns said.
Burns started with Scottsdale in 1975 as a human services specialist, counseling delinquent children.
Later, she served in human resources, water resources, as the city court administrator, community development manager and as head of management services.
In 1990, she was named assistant city manager.
The most memorable time in her career came in 1981, when in one weekend three of the city’s municipal judges quit, Burns said.
"There were some issues within authority of the city management over the city courts, and the judges got a bit upset and just decided they were going to resign," she said.
When retired, Burns said she intends to start a consulting firm to work with city governments, but she did not know who her clients will be.
Shearer has worked for Scottsdale for 27 years, starting as an intern in the city’s budget office.
Two other open City Hall positions are administrative assistant jobs for the city manager, and for the mayor and City Council.
The council has two secretaries and Mayor Mary Manross has her own, but no other staff members, so a position is being created.
"If you look around the Valley, most of the councils do have a lot more support staff for things like doing correspondence, doing some of the background research for them, attending some of the meetings that overlap," said Steve Olson, the city’s lobbyist.
Dolan said she has slated one of her assistants, Natalie Lewis, to the mayor and council support position.
Scottsdale posted the new administrative spot as well as Lewis’ job on its Web site Monday.
Lewis has been working two jobs, serving the council since June while continuing as the city manager’s assistant.
The switch will make Lewis solely responsible to the council’s and mayor’s requests.
"It’s all going to work as a unit. There are no barrier lines here," Dolan said.
Councilman Bob Littlefield said he would prefer that the council’s staff not work so closely with the city manager’s staff.
"I’ve had a little argument with the city manager over that issue," Littlefield said. "I would prefer somebody who was a little more loyal to us than to the city manager. But I’ll take all the help I can get."