NORTH OGDEN -- Finance Director Debbie Cardenas has resigned after eight years with the city. She will take a job as the finance director with the city of Mesquite, Nev. Her last day will be March 23.
Cardenas is the third top city official to resign in the last several months.
City Attorney and Economic Development Director Dave Carlson resigned to take a job with the Utah Attorney General's Office, and City Manager Ed Dickie resigned to take a position with the city of Santa Clara in Southern Utah.
Carlson is still working part time for the city until his position is filled. Dickie's last day is Friday.
Mayor Richard Harris said he doesn't think the departures are as much about coincidence as they are about opportunity. All three are receiving significant pay increases, and the positions are filling personal and family goals, he said.
But it is well-known that tensions have run high in North Ogden politics, and there was a very contentious election in the fall, he said.
Much of the contention centered around a proposed public works facility and the desire the former council had to bond for up to $7 million to build the complex.
"The new city council members have made it plain they feel they were elected to make some changes," Harris wrote in an email.
The city manager and department heads have been uncomfortable and wondering how the city council changes will affect them, Harris said, so it's understandable that some city employees have been looking for other opportunities.
Cardenas was often a target of questions from council members about how the city came up with its numbers. She has often fielded questions at council meetings regarding budget issues ranging from disproportionate fees for businesses to water rates to having excess funds in the city's budget.
Harris said council members have made it clear they want to move forward in a positive way and do what's best for the city.
"I'm doing my best to work with all concerned to arrive at the best outcomes," he said.
Sixteen applications have been received for the city manager's job, and the mayor and council are evaluating the candidates. The council will be directly involved in making the selection, because the position is filled by ordinance.
Harris hopes to fill the position as soon as possible.
The application deadline for the finance director position is March 16.
Harris will fill that position with the consent of the council as in all department head positions.
Harris will wait to appoint a city attorney until the new city manager is hired, so he or she can be part of that hiring process.
Cardenas will still serve as the acting city manager until her departure March 23. At that time, the mayor will appoint another department head as acting city manager until the position is filled.
Harris is eager to get all positions filled, as the city is in the middle of budget talks for its fiscal year 2012-13 budget.
Contacted by email, council members Justin Fawson, Dave Hulme and Cheryl Stoker said they had nothing to add about Cardenas' resignation beyond Harris' comments.
Stoker did wish Cardenas well in her new job.
Council members Wade Bigler and Kent Bailey did not respond to email requests for comment.