FARMINGTON — Farmington has begun a nationwide search to replace the executive who has guided the city through unprecedented growth over most of the past decade.
Dave Millheim recently informed the city’s mayor and council of his intention to retire as Farmington’s city manager, a position he’s held since 2010.
Millheim, 57, said his split with the city is amicable and he’s simply ready for retirement. His contract requires him to work 45 days after giving notice of his leaving, but Millheim says he’ll stay on with the city until a replacement is hired and fully trained.
Farmington will accept applications through Aug. 31. More information on the job can be found at the city’s website, www.farmington.utah.gov. Millheim expects about 80 applicants.
“Probably half of those will be qualified, and then half of the qualified applicants will be what the city is looking for,” Millheim said.
Mayor Jim Talbot and the city’s five-member council will make the hiring decision. Whoever Millheim’s replacement is, the newcomer will have a lot to catch up on.
“Farmington is a city that’s experiencing tremendous growth and change,” Millheim said. “That’s true in a lot of other cities (along the Wasatch Front), but it’s more pronounced in Farmington because we’re really restricted by our geography — mountains to the east, the (Great Salt Lake) to the west. Development and growth is going to continue to be a major issue here.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city’s population was just above 18,000 in 2010. Today, Farmington is estimated to have more than 24,000 residents. The city planners expect another 11,000 residents to live within their borders by the time Farmington is built out.
And residential growth is only part of the equation.
In the nearly nine years Millheim has been with Farmington, the city’s sales tax revenues have more than doubled. Sales tax revenue is projected to reach $5 million in 2019, according to city budget documents. Much of that is due to the completion of Station Park, the $300 million, 70-plus acre shopping complex.
The center is one of the largest and most successful retail hubs in Northern Utah, but a project planned for an empty 300-acre swath of land immediately north of Station Park figures to be a major occupier of time and effort for the next city manager.
The city is working as a gatekeeper on an effort to bring a large-scale, mixed-use business park to the section of land and if everything goes as planned, the project would put one of the region’s largest employment centers right next to one of its largest commercial complexes.
The project is still years from being realized, but preliminary plans call for the land to be filled with a mix of office, retail, light commercial, residential and open space.
According to city documents associated with the plan, the project area is more than three times the size of Station Park in total acreage and is estimated to generate a property tax valuation four times larger.
Consultants hired by the city estimate when the project is built out, the assessed valuation for the area could approach $1 billion. The city thinks the development could ultimately result in 10,000 jobs.
The park would be built in the fastest growing part of town, near the junction of three and soon to be four major state highways — another significant future consideration for Millheim’s replacement.
Interstate 15, U.S. 89 and the Legacy Parkway all intersect near Park Lane in Farmington. Construction on the $725 million, 19-mile West Davis Corridor is set to begin in two years. The work will be completed in a sequential manner, beginning in Farmington where the corridor will connect with I-15 and the Legacy Parkway at Glovers Lane.
The Utah Department of Transportation is also planning a $275 reconstruction of U.S. 89 on a 9-mile section between Farmington and Interstate 84 in South Weber, set to be finished by 2021.
“The West Davis Corridor is coming whether we like it or not,” Millheim said. “And it’s going to have a major impact on our city.”
Future growth in the city should be “handled very methodically,” Millheim said, and commercial development and high-density housing should be confined to the area near the highways.
Millheim said he’s not exactly sure what the future holds for him, other than spending time with his grandkids.