Zurn steps aside as head of public works

After nearly two years, Steve Zurn, general manager of Glendale Water & Power and public works director, will be shedding one of his executive roles as City Engineer Roubik Golanian is set to take the helm at public works.

Golanian, whose appointment was approved by the City Council this week, is slated to begin his new role July 1.

"It's a little bittersweet," said Zurn, who has spent all of his 27 years at the city, so far, in public works.

But the financial challenges at Glendale Water & Power, potential changes to the city's power plant and the day-to-day operations of public works have stretched him too thin.

"There's not enough of one person to go around," Zurn said, adding that each department deserves its own leader to give employees the attention and mentoring they deserve.

"It's what's best," he said.

Zurn took on his dual role after former Glendale Water & Power General Manager Glenn Steiger resigned. Steiger double-charged the city for a utility conference he attended, but the official line about his departure was that he was leaving for personal reasons.

Since then, Zurn has tackled multimillion-dollar deficits, electricity-rate increases, botched water-rate hikes and, most recently, a new round of proposed water rate-boosts to fix the bungled ones from 2012.

Zurn has also had his hands full with public scrutiny related to a controversial transfer of roughly $20 million of utility revenues to city coffers, which opponents call a backdoor tax. Two lawsuits were filed this year in an attempt to stop the money-moving.

The utility's union, International brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, and officials have butted heads during Zurn's tenure, too, with the union fighting against increased employee contributions to pensions. Last May, after an impasse with the union, the council imposed a contract, cutting pay by 1.75%.

On the horizon, Zurn said, is the potential replacement of old power stations at Grayson Power Plant, which will take much of his attention.

Golanian, who has worked for the city for 14 years, has been Zurn's right-hand man in public works for some time.

"Roubik has demonstrated strong leadership skills, implemented programs and overseen projects that have been recognized by many local and state organizations," said City Manager Scott Ochoa in a statement. "His years of experience in the field have prepared him to take the Public Works Department into the future."

Golanian will get a roughly 4% gross salary bump to about $200,816 a year, while Zurn will keep his gross salary of $225,797, which was increased in 2012 when he took on the second job.

In other City Hall personnel news, the council approved a new executive position for the city's public information officer, boosting the pay range for that job from between $73,356 and $106,704 to between $114,480 and $166,548. The council gave the OK to create a variety of new titles for specialized positions in the city attorney's office and parks department.

Currently, Tom Lorenz acts as both a police sergeant and the city spokesman and is paid $215,775 annually. City Manager Scott Ochoa was tight-lipped about his plan for the spokesman position because some details must still go through the city's Civil Service Commission, which decides personnel matters.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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