For someone who claims to hate change, Tim Grier has never been afraid to make one.
From opening his own tourism business at 20 years old, going back to law school after nearly 30 years and closing down his private practice to manage a small town, Grier has worn many hats.
“It is hard for me to make a change; I like routine,” Grier said recently seated at his new town manager desk in Star Valley. “I hope to be here for a while.”
If the track record of his predecessors holds true, Grier will only hold the job for a few years. Grier, town manager number three for Star Valley, which was established three years ago, said he hopes to break the record and stay as long he is having fun.
“I am looking for something new in life that is more fulfilling, trying to help a small town is going to be a challenge,” Grier said.
On Dec. 16, the town council decided to make Grier their permanent town manager after he served as interim town manger for a few months after Vito Tedeschi left. Grier has served as the town’s attorney for two years, and was appointed chief financial officer a few months ago.
Grier says the council did not pick him so much because they like him, but more because it made financial sense. Combining the positions of town manager and attorney saves the town the cost of an additional salary. Mayor Chuck Heron and Vice Mayor Bill Rappaport said the main reason they picked Grier was financial savings.
“The main reason was to save money,” Heron said. “We are looking very carefully at our expenses, and there really isn’t room for both a full-time town manager and town attorney.”
“We are going to save the town a considerable amount of money,” Rappaport said.
Grier grew up in Kansas and moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University as an undergraduate where he studied English. Shortly after graduating, Grier visited the Forest Lakes area and decided to open his own cabin and cross country ski Nordic center.
Grier sold his Mercedes, bought 100 skis and opened for business.
For 28 years, Grier managed eight rental cabins, an RV park, 30 miles of cross-country ski runs and gave lessons.
“I had skied up there before, and there was no one up there, so I got the idea to open,” he said.
Two years ago, Grier sold the business off.
“It seemed like it was time,” Grier said of selling the business, “I often wonder why I became an attorney, I often ask that, but it seemed like the time to do something different.”
Grier’s decision to leave the ski business behind was influenced partly by an accident he had while working for the Forest Service.
Grier worked for the Forest Service in the summer off-season months. Using his English degree, Grier completed various writing projects and guidebooks.
In June of 1995, while setting up for a presentation at Cabin Point Campground, a wooden presentation structure fell down on top of Grier, fracturing nearly everything from his waist down.
For the next two years, Grier underwent numerous surgeries.
“It was life changing,” he said. “In a way I understood after the accident that my priorities were not right and it was easy to get caught up in work when friends and family are more important.”
Grier, divorced, has two children — daughter Rachael, 18, and son Joey, 13 — who live in Oregon.
After the accident, Grier sued the Forest Service. His attorney, Andy Hurwitz, now a justice with the Arizona Supreme Court, became a close friend and influenced his decision to go back to school and become a lawyer.
“I was impressed by his character, he was one of the people in my life who changed it,” Grier said.
He also admits lying in a bed recovering from the accident watching talk shows all day grew tiresome, and studying for the LSAT could be a time filler.
“One day I woke up and thought about my day filled with Rosie and Oprah and knew I had to do something,” he said.
In 2000, Grier graduated from ASU, again, and went to work at the Gila County Prosecutors office. After a year, he moved over to the Town of Payson as deputy town attorney. Then, wanting more time off, he decided to open a private practice.
“Little did I know that would be the end of any time off, I would work seven days a week,” he said. Recently, Grier closed his private practice to focus solely on Star Valley.
Grier said he is excited to work with council and town.
“They never told me I would be town manager,” Grier said. “And it’s not until I started doing the job that I starting having fun. It is a management job and more of my background is in management with my own business, so it made a lot of sense for me.”
Grier said his priorities as manager are water service, police protection and balancing the budget.
“Star Valley is going to have the same problems as other towns with reduced revenue and sales tax revenue,” he said. “We will have to make smart decisions.”
Providing quarterly financial reports to council and meeting with financial consultant Glenn Smith regularly will keep the town on track.
“My job is just to provide information to council so they can make good decisions,” he said.
The town needs to create a reserve and rainy day fund and secure a police contract with the Payson Police Department.
Grier hopes to know by mid-January what the Payson Town Council wants to do regarding the police contract. Water will always be a top priority, and Grier said the new water commission would be looking at all possible solutions.