Former City Manager Kolb takes interim job in Ariz.

Former Wichita City Manager George Kolb is heading to Surprise, Ariz.

Officials of the desert city announced Thursday that Kolb had accepted a position as interim assistant city manager. He will start Oct. 19 and make $141,000 a year, plus benefits, according to the city's statement.

It's the latest in a series of interconnecting job changes over a period of years involving Kolb, Surprise City Manager Randy Oliver and Kolb's former assistant, Scott Moore.

In 2001, Kolb replaced Oliver as manager of the consolidated city-county government in Augusta, Ga. Kolb left that job in 2004 and moved on to Wichita, where he worked as city manager until January 2008.

Oliver left Augusta for Greenville, S.C., and then moved on to Peoria, Ill. He left Peoria for Surprise in July 2008.

Moore, who was assistant manager in Wichita under Kolb, this week started his new job — replacing Oliver as city manager in Peoria.

None of that was planned, Oliver said. In fact, he said, he didn't know Kolb before Kolb took over his old job in Augusta.

Surprise is a sun-soaked suburb of Phoenix with a median home price of $266,000. Its population has more than tripled this decade, rising from 30,000 in the 2000 Census to more than 110,000 now.

Kolb said he expects his first task will be to look over the city's finances and budget.

Oliver said Surprise runs with only one assistant city manager, and he will divide the departments between himself and Kolb, although he hasn't decided yet who will run what.

Oliver said he interviewed several applicants and that Kolb, with nearly 40 years of experience in municipal government, "was far and away the most qualified — we could not have done better."

He said he used the weather to lure Kolb to Surprise.

With the hot summer ending, "I told him this is the perfect time of year to come to Arizona," Oliver said.

He added that the position is open-ended, and he hadn't discussed with Kolb whether he wants the job on a permanent basis.

Kolb said he was looking for temporary housing in Surprise and hasn't decided whether to leave Wichita for good.

After resigning as Wichita's manager over differences with the City Council, Kolb has held interim positions with Valley Center.

He served as interim city administrator from November 2008 until March of this year, when the Valley Center City Council hired Joel Pile for the job permanently.

Kolb stayed on as a consultant to the city, reworking its policy and procedure manuals and assisting with road, bridge and stormwater improvements.

Pile said he will be sorry to see Kolb go.

"In my time here... he's been a great professional mentor for me," Pile said.