Denton City Manager Todd Hileman will receive a $265,000 salary in Palm Desert, California, where he plans to accept a contract for the same position.
The Palm Desert City Council unanimously approved his hire Thursday night with a 5-0 vote.
“We received a highly competitive field of applications,” Palm Desert Mayor Kathleen Kelly said. “It took several rounds to narrow those applications to our final selection because they were of such great quality. I take that to be a reflection of the whole community of Palm Desert.”
Palm Desert City Council member Sabby Jonathan agreed.
“Who wouldn’t want this job?” he said. “The end result of that … process was Mr. Todd Hileman. He has distinguished himself in accomplishing at both efficiencies and excellence in service. So we are pleased with this outcome.”
Hileman has declined to respond to multiple messages about why he’s leaving Denton with time left on his contract. He was initially hired under a five-year contract when he came here in January 2017 after 13 years in Glenview, Illinois, a Chicago suburb with a population of about 45,000. He has worked in city management for about 27 years.
He has also worked in Avondale, Arizona, according to the contract provided by Palm Desert, as well as in Delavan, Wisconsin, and Vandalia, Missouri.
Hileman’s Denton contract is scheduled to expire in October 2023 following a one-year extension city council members approved in 2019. His base salary when he was hired was $250,000. In addition to health benefits, he received vacation and sick time allotments and a $600 car allowance. Today, his annual salary is $267,800.
The proposed Palm Desert contract is annual with no term set. It includes an auto allowance of $600, vacation and sick leave, moving expenses capped at $15,000 and temporary housing for up to six months at $2,000 a month. It also has a severance package for the first nine months of employment if he is dismissed without cause. If he is dismissed with cause, he receives no compensation.
Hileman told the Desert Sun that “Palm Desert’s outstanding quality of life, combined with the excellent conversations that I had with city council members, convinced me that this was a terrific opportunity.”
Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth has declined to comment on Hileman’s departure except through email. But he shared his thoughts on the city manager’s decision and other issues with Glen Farris in a nearly hour-long podcast this week.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Hudspeth said. “It was one of those things that jumped out at me. First, once you get past the shock, you are truly grateful. He’s done some amazing work, took on a lot of challenges and handled those well.”
That includes bond programs and attempting to smooth over relationships between council members and staff members, the mayor said.
“Did he ruffle feathers? Absolutely. He came to complete a task I think he did well,” Hudspeth said. “He weathered kind of a personality challenge with the city council.”
Ryan Adams, Denton’s director of customer service and public affairs, said Hileman “intends to make a formal, public comment on this matter” on Friday.
Palm Desert is in Southern California, about 120 miles northeast of San Diego. The population of Palm Desert is about 53,100. Denton’s population is roughly 141,000.
According to the Desert Sun, Palm Desert has a budget this fiscal year of about $59 million, compared with Denton’s budget of $1.3 billion.