Denton City Manager Todd Hileman is expected to leave his current job and assume the same position in Palm Desert, California, on March 1, according to published reports.
He will succeed interim City Manager Randal Bynder, who replaced Lauri Aylaian after she announced her retirement on Aug. 30, according to a Desert Sun newspaper article published Tuesday.
Palm Desert, a city of about 53,100 people, is in Southern California, about 120 miles northeast of San Diego. Denton’s population is roughly 141,000.
“Palm Desert is kind of in the central part of the Coachella Valley,” said Tim Kiley, assistant news manager for KESQ-TV, which reported on Tuesday night that Hileman is the finalist from 70 candidates considered for the position. “It’s not the richest city, but it’s in good shape. It’s mostly golf courses and gated communities.”
Hileman came to Denton 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. His contract with Denton is scheduled to expire on Jan. 29, 2022.
“I think it’s a massive loss,” Denton City Council member Paul Meltzer said. “His financial management through tough times has been exemplary. It’s a blow.”
Hileman’s base annual 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.
He initially was hired on a five-year contract, which was extended by a year in 2019 to run through January 2023.
“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,” Hileman told the Desert Sun.
Hileman did not return messages from the Denton Record-Chronicle seeking comment. Ryan Adams, spokesman for the city of Denton, said in an email that Hileman is not available until Friday while he informs Denton City Council members.
“City Manager Hileman intends to make a formal, public comment on this matter on Friday, January 29,” Adams said in the email. “No other information will be released by Mr. Hileman or the City of Denton prior to that time.”
The Palm Desert City Council is expected to hire Hileman on Thursday, KESQ reported. Palm Desert Mayor Kathleen Kelly had not returned a message seeking comment by Wednesday evening.
Denton City Council member Deb Armintor thanked Hileman for his service.
“I didn’t even know he was looking for another job,” she said. “I wish him well, and I agree that it is time for him to move on. I think he did a lot of good for Denton when he first came here. But it got to a point where I believed it was time for the city to say, ‘Thank you. Next.’”
Mayor Gerard Hudspeth declined to comment except through email. Adams said a decision has not been made on the search method for Hileman’s replacement.
“That will be a council decision,” he said.
Palm Desert, the Desert Sun reported, has a budget this fiscal year of about $59 million. Denton’s budget is $1.3 billion.