Public works director to pull double duty at Glendale's utility

Steve Zurn, the public works director who was appointed to be interim general manager of Glendale Water & Power in May, was given the permanent post Tuesday.

After being confirmed by the City Council on Tuesday, Zurn will now pull double duty as director of two large departments at City Hall: public works and the Glendale's municipally-owned utility, which faces a number of challenges.

Among those challenges is a faction of workers pushing for a contract through new union leadership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which has been locked in a battle over a new contract since this spring. Members were outside City Hall Tuesday demonstrating amid honking car horns from passing traffic.

Zurn was appointed to the interim position in May in the wake of the abrupt resignation of Glenn Steiger, his predecessor. At the time, all sides said Steiger’s departure was for personal reasons, but Steiger later acknowledged that he had he double-billed the city for expenses related to a conference he attended on behalf of another organization, which he said was the result of a mistake.

His decision to resign a day after city officials inquired about the receipts was coincidental, he added.

Calling Zurn an “exceptional leader” and “a frugal manager,” City Manager Scott Ochoa put the utility under the public works director's authority at that time to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

Zurn apparently excelled in that role.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Ochoa said Zurn had “executed strong leadership and implemented programs that are fiscally responsible that will serve our community well.”

Though public works and Glendale Water & Power will now be under Zurn's leadership, they will both remain separate operations, according to the city.

Brittany Levine contributed reporting.

-- Jason Wells, Times Community News

Follow Jason Wells on Google+ and on Twitter:@JasonBretWells




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