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City manager receives SUMA Meritorious Service Award

Moose Jaw city manager honoured for 35 years of municipal service
Moose Jaw city manager Jim Puffalt speaks at a recent city council meeting
When the City of Moose Jaw hired Jim Puffalt as their new city manager last year, they knew they were getting someone with plenty of experience in the business of running things for cities and towns all over Saskatchewan and beyond.

During the most recent Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association conference, Puffalt was recognized for that longevity, as he received a SUMA Meritorious Service Award signifying his 35 years as a municipal employee.

“It's a nice honour, you look out at the crowd and I remember the first SUMA convention I went to when I was a young puppy, there were a bunch of old people, but they were obviously not since I'm there now and I'm not old,” Puffalt said with a laugh prior to Monday's city council meeting.

“It was just an interesting time to see how much SUMA has changed over the years and it gives you perspective on how much everything has changed... it's very cool to get an award like that.”

The award recognizes each individual's career success, dedication and involvement in their local communities, with the award citation saying such people 'become role models in their communities and through their long service, they have made a valuable contribution to the success of their municipalities. They strive for an improved quality of life through a strong local government.'

Puffalt has tried to follow that role ever since he started his career as the town administrator in Elrose, and while his job description has changed over the years, the tenents of how he works with the public hasn't.

“Even when I started in a one-person office, I was the customer service, I was the one taking the cash and making sure that they felt that coming to the municipal office was a good experience,” Puffalt said. “That kind of thing I've tried to impress on people I've worked with, look after the customers, that's fortunately been the constant over the years, looking after people.”

When you've been doing something for 35 years, you're bound to see all sorts of change, and the business of running communities is no exception. Especially when it comes to technology.

“The type of transformation I've seen in municipal offices over the years, what you see now compared to back then, is incredible,” Puffalt said. “I remember being excited when we got a fax machine way back when and now our phones have way more computing power than the first computers I worked with.

“The technology has changed, but what hasn't is customer service and looking after the taxpayers and making sure that you're doing what's necessary to ensure their best interests are met.”

Odds are Puffalt will be long retired by the time the next 35 years come along. Seeing what happens as time passes and how things evolve is something he looking forward to in the meantime.

“I can't even imagine,” Puffalt laughed. “Maybe we'll be teleporting around, who knows? It's hard to say what changes will be there, so it's going to be interesting for sure.”

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