Farmington reshapes development department
It’s been eight years since Farmington City Council members dropped the community development director position from the city’s annual budget. Now, they’re going to put it back in, and bring in a new staff member in the process.
Farmington city administrator David McKnight presented his proposal for the new position to council members during Monday’s city council meeting.
Over the past eight years, the city has eliminated the community development director, economic development specialist and an administrative assistant position. All three positions were tasked with economic development. Each time a position was cut, the work combined with existing positions in order to meet budget needs.
But the need for economic development is still an issue, McKnight said. The Farmington City Council has named economic development a priority in its 2013-2017 strategic plan.
“Economic development is huge with this council,” McKnight said.
The community development director will oversee planning, economic development, building inspections, heritage preservation and code enforcement.
The new community development director will also be the liaison to the Farmington Economic Development Authority, the business community, the Farmington Business Association and the Dakota County Regional Chamber, as well as the Metropolitan Council and the Dakota County Community Development Agency.
“I just need someone who can see across all those lines,” McKnight said.
Funding for the position comes out of the planning department budget, according to McKnight. The starting salary is $82,497.
The community development director will become part of the city’s management level staff.
Having such a position is not uncommon, McKnight said. In developing the new position, he checked around and found that Lakeville, Apple Valley, Hastings, Rosemount, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights and West St. Paul all have community development directors, and the duties are similar to those in the new Farmington position.
In addition, McKnight is looking to use the new community development director as special projects come up. One such project, he said, will be to update or eliminate city codes.
“There are a lot of those old codes that don’t apply anymore,” he said. “That’s one of those tasks that needs to be done, but has a beginning and an end.”
The new position was posted with the League of Minnesota Cities Tuesday. It will also be advertised locally and on the city’s website. McKnight hopes to have a new community development director in place sometime in June.