Plymouth's first female city manager is stepping down.

After a decade in the CEO-like city position, Laurie Ahrens announced her retirement last week, with her last day July 12.

"Much of my life has been devoted to this city, and leaving is no easy decision," she said in a prepared statement.

In her 35 years in city government, Ahrens has worked in Plymouth, Mankato and North Mankato. In 1988, then-City Manager Jim Willis hired her as Plymouth's city clerk. Over the years, she rose to assistant city manager and, in 2003, city manager, overseeing hiring staff and managing finances during the economic recession that resulted in unprecedented layoffs.

"You have been exceptional … not all cities are as fortunate as we are," Mayor Kelli Slavik told her at the meeting.

The council will meet May 14 to determine next steps in searching for Ahrens' replacement.

"It's going to be a hard pair of shoes to fill," said Willis, now a City Council member. "She's had a good ride."