LAYTON -- If City Finance Director Steve Ashby had his wish, he would just fade into the sunset.
He would leave the position he has held for nearly 25 years without anyone even noticing. No parties or thank-you celebrations. No recognition for all his hard work.
"Why not?" Ashby said.
The answer is simple. Because those who have worked with him simply will not allow Ashby to leave without letting him know how crucial his efforts have been for the city of Layton.
"There isn't a finer finance director in the state," said City Attorney Gary Crane. "His conservative nature was always initially frustrating, but always proved to be correct. His nickname here at the city is 'URM,' standing for the Ultimate Reasonable Man."
Even though Ashby requested not to have a going-away party of any kind, city officials and staff created their own open house Thursday afternoon as they streamed into his office to wish him well on his final day.
Since Ashby became the city's finance director, in July 1987, the city has nearly doubled in size. Not only has the population gone from 38,000 to close to 70,000, but the city's annual budget has increased from $12 million to $60 million.
Both as mayor and a city council member, Mayor Steve Curtis has worked with Ashby for 17 years.
"During that time I've seen an amazing, remarkable individual work with a city staff during the point of an extensive growth period, yet keep the budget intact," Curtis said.
Ashby, however, said it was the city council and other elected and city staff members who did all the hard work.
"My role has always been supportive," Ashby said. "I can't take credit for anything done in the city. That was the city council, other elected officials and staff. My little part was to make sure the money intended for a specific purpose got there."
Those who Ashby credits strongly disagree.
"At the end of the day, his fingerprints are on everything," said Ben Hart, Layton's economic development specialist. "The reality is that, because he did his job so well, everyone else was able to be more effective on their roles, for every project that passed through Layton's doors the last 25 years."
Projects Ashby was a part of include extending Gentile Street going west, the upgrade of Gordon Avenue and the recent Layton Parkway extension from the new Interstate 15 interchange.
There also has been the purchase of Ellison Park, the development around Layton Hills Mall and the development of East Gate Business Park.
Council members point to certain qualities that have enabled Ashby to get work done in an impressive manner.
"Steve has been a wonderful caretaker of the taxpayers' money," Councilwoman Joyce Brown said. "He has always been great to work with and to explain the financial issues to the council."
"He is unassuming, thought-provoking and thoughtful, with a compassion for others and an ability to work well with others, and yet get the best out of everyone," said Councilman Barry Flitton.
The council members said they appreciated Ashby's effort and unique traits.
"We will all miss that little half-smile, which always meant he had thought about the question," Councilman Michael Bouwhuis said.
"Steve's legacy of fiscal responsibility will be felt for generations to come as our children inherit a city that has maintained fiscal solvency."
Ashby plans to do some traveling with his wife, Marsha, and do some work around the house. Then, of course, there's his favorite hobby.
Brown said, "I wish him many great rounds of golf."