The city of Palm Desert Tuesday announced that its next top administrator will be heading west to the California desert from Denton, Texas.

Todd Hileman, Denton’s current city manager, is expected to be confirmed by the Palm Desert City Council on Thursday and start shortly thereafter.

Hileman will replace interim City Manager Randy Bynder, who has led the city since September following the resignation of Lauri Aylaian, who served in the top post for four years prior to retiring due to unspecified personal reasons.

“We received a very strong field of applications, reflecting positively on our whole community and our city staff, who make the city manager position in Palm Desert a tremendous opportunity,” Mayor Kathleen Kelly said. “The City Council is confident that Todd has all the qualities necessary to continue Palm Desert’s tradition of excellence and innovation.”

The city contracted with an outside firm to conduct a nationwide search, which included 70 applicants.

Hileman has been city manager of Denton since 2017. The college town (it houses the University of North Texas), located about a 45-minute drive northwest of Dallas, had a population of 136,195 in 2019, compared to 52,575 that year in Palm Desert, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Prior to Denton, Hileman served as village manager in the north Chicago suburban community of Glenview, Illinois for about 13 years following several other roles in city management elsewhere.

“During his 28 years in local government, Hileman has delivered on municipal goals and helped organizations transform business practices while emphasizing efficiency, customer service, and innovation,” according to a city statement.

He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University.

Palm Desert was the second municipality in the Coachella Valley to announce its selection of a new city manager on Tuesday. Palm Springs announced that Justin Clifton is expected to start his new role in early April, replacing David Ready, who held the role since 2000.

Hileman will take over a city, like others in the Coachella Valley, grappling with the ramifications of decreased tourism revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Early estimates from last summer estimated that COVID-19 cost the Coachella Valley nearly $3.5 billion in lost revenue, according to the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. That’s a loss of 57% compared to 2019, when visitor spending accounted for more than $5.9 billion in revenue, according to an economic impact study by Tourism Economics citied by local tourism officials.

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