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Santaquin city manager resigns

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SANTAQUIN — With his job security in question, Santaquin City Manager Roger Carter tendered his resignation this week, trading for a more secure position in Washington City, near St. George, Mayor LaDue Scovill said.

Carter announced his resignation at Wednesday's Santaquin City Council meeting. Carter was not available for comment on Thursday, but will reportedly begin his new job on March 22.

Scovill conceded there had been a cloud of insecurity hanging over Carter since the November election when voters elected a slate of new faces. Newcomer Todd Starley said the new group favors a more conservative approach to city government.

"People in town were looking for a change," Councilman Martin Green added.

While Carter has often appeared at odds with new City Council members since they were sworn in in January, Starley said Carter was not forced to resign.

Scovill recently conducted a telephone poll of the council. He said he found only one vote of confidence.

"He (Carter) was concerned he wouldn't have a position," Scovill said.

The vote of confidence came from Councilman Wesley Morgan, the lone holdover from the previous council.

Carter's salary — about $100,000 a year, including benefits — was a sticking point for critics. They said that was too much for a blue-collar town the size of Santaquin. Santaquin's population is about 6,450.

Morgan took issue with that sentiment.

"He (Carter) was the perfect city manager for the city of Santaquin," Morgan said. "He paid his way, he spearheaded economic growth."

The city's economic growth hit a road bump last fall when the planned 2,270-acre Summit Ridge on Santaquin's south end stalled. Then-Councilwoman Marilyn Clayson questioned if the city needed additional workers hired for the project. Scovill defended city hiring at the time and vowed that city staffing would remain unchanged. He echoed that sentiment Thursday and said he intends to replace Carter.

Scovill said he does not know if the city's next manager will be paid as much as Carter, although it will remain a full-time position.

The market should determine the pay package, Morgan said.

Carter's aggressiveness in seeking government grants was also a concern for critics. The strings connected to such grants worried some people, Starley said.

The latest grant application — $400,000 that would be used to refurbish the Main Street area, a state road — is now under consideration by the state Department of Transportation.

Carter's accomplishments during his three-year tenure included new budget procedures and establishing an emergency preparedness team that he formed just days before the devastating mudslides in September 2002. The mud that came down from Dry Mountain partially buried a neighborhood.

Carter was also instrumental in getting $300,000 in Community Development Block Grants for the new city library and a nearly equal amount for a new public safety building that is still on the drawing board. That building could cost as much as $800,000, Scovill said, but that hasn't yet been finalized.

Washington officials say Carter's pay package is still being determined but could be decided today.

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com