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Brigham City administrator's resignation is latest change in city ruffled by mayor's affair

Published February 8, 2013 4:53 pm

News is latest change in city still ruffled by mayor's affair.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bruce Leonard, city administrator for Brigham City, will retire in July from the job he's performed for the past seven years.

In a Jan. 29 letter addressed to Councilman Tyler Vincent — who also serves as the mayor pro tem — Leonard announced his resignation.

"It is with mixed emotions that I notify you of my intent to retire, effective July 10, 2013," Leonard wrote.

A native of the Brigham City area, Leonard was first hired by the Box Elder County city as an engineering technician in 1981. Two years later he was tapped to head up the city's Public Works department, a role he filled for 23 years.

In his letter to Vincent, Leonard did not give a reason for his exit from the city that recently reeled under the news that its mayor since 2010, Dennis Fife, had confessed to an extramarital affair with a woman he formerly counseled as a Mormon bishop.

Reached by phone this week, Leonard said he felt he was ready to do other things.

"I'm up in years and I want to enjoy my life," Leonard said. "It has everything to do with me and my family."However, he acknowledged that he would miss co-workers and the projects they tackled together.

In a phone interview, Fife noted that Leonard is past the normal retirement age, so his resignation came as no surprise.

"He's been planning on this for quite a while," Fife said, praising Leonard for "doing a fantastic job for the city."

In the wake of Fife's late November confession and the public uproar that ensued, the City Council voted in December to strip him of all authority over city personnel. While the city administrator is appointed and serves at the pleasure of the mayor, Vincent, as mayor pro tem, will now oversee that process to appoint Leonard's replacement. The City Council must also approve the final candidate.

Vincent said by phone that Leonard's resignation had nothing to do with Fife and the turmoil the city was going through. "He just decided it's time," Vincent said.

At December council sessions, several residents spoke against Fife's determination to continue as mayor, and some asked Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, to sponsor a recall bill that would provide a mechanism to force elected officials out of office. Two weeks into the 45-day legislative session, that measure remains unnumbered.

Council member Ruth Jensen voiced concerns about the impact Fife's affair and its subsequent fallout have had on city employees.

"The situation that has been created is a wedge and distraction," Jensen said, "and the people who are getting hurt the most are the staff."

Plans to replace Leonard are under way, Vincent added, with the initial focus of hiring a qualified candidate from within the ranks of city employees.

"We are going through the process right now of getting a city assistant administrator to job-shadow Bruce," Vincent said. "Then he will step into Bruce's place when he leaves."

Jeff Packer, a real estate broker who has served as the city's consultant on several transactions, said that Leonard will be hard to replace."There's probably no one I'd consider more knowledgeable" — in terms of historical information about the city, Packer said. "He deserves our accolades."

Reached by email, Rick Bosworth, human resource coordinator, said that early next week an assistant city administrator job posting will be advertised for five days on the Department of Workforce Services and Brigham City websites.

According to utahsright.com, Leonard's total annual compensation — including wages and benefits — is $163,739.

Jensen said that she's pleased the job opening will be posted publicly.

"I'm sure there will be many applications and we can find another superstar like Bruce Leonard," Jensen said. "We need someone who can take over the helm and get this ship through the storm."

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck