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Davis Journal

Darren Frandsen: From public works to city manager

May 02, 2024 09:13AM ● By Peri Kinder
After working for Fruit Heights City since 1993, Darren Frandsen has been named the new city manager. Photo courtesy of Fruit Heights

After working for Fruit Heights City since 1993, Darren Frandsen has been named the new city manager. Photo courtesy of Fruit Heights

After Fruit Heights City Manager Brandon Green retired in May 2023, Darren Frandsen applied for the job. Frandsen had worked with the city for 30 years and felt he understood the position and its responsibilities. He didn’t get the job.

Now, after serving as the assistant city manager for a time and interim city manager for six months, Frandsen was sworn in as the new city manager in April. 

“I want to continue to make Fruit Heights a great place to live,” Frandsen said. “People love to live in Fruit Heights, in this bedroom community. The challenge is to keep that bedroom community and to stay in the black with our budget. Our city has no debt. So, hopefully, I can continue to do the same thing.”

As city manager, Frandsen will oversee government functions, advise the mayor and city council, appoint department directors, help create the annual budget and coordinate city operations. He will also be responsible for attracting qualified employees to the city to provide quality services to residents. 

Frandsen’s 30+ year career with Fruit Heights started in 1993 when he joined the public works department, eventually working his way to director. His experience creating the public works budget meant developing programs and systems to take the city’s infrastructure into the future. In 2022, he was given the Rural Water Award of Excellence for his work in the municipal water industry.

As a bedroom community, the biggest commercial business in the city is the Cherry Hill water park, so creating a sustainable budget becomes tricky when the city relies on property taxes, fees and grant monies. 

“We just have to be mindful and plan for the future. The biggest thing is we don’t do a lot of projects every year. We try to switch between a water project and work on that for a couple of years and then the same with our roads. We’ll do some big road projects and then we’ll have to save for a couple of years to get more money to do more,” he said. “The harder part is that everything’s going up in cost and you’ve got to figure out how to get projects done with the costs increasing and how to present that to the public.”

For instance, the estimated cost of culinary water from the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District is expected to be more than $100,000. Planning accordingly could mean an increase in fees for residents. As project costs increase across the city, Frandsen knows he will have to walk a fine line to keep the city-funded without overburdening residents. 

He would love to see more engagement from people who live in Fruit Heights. He invites everyone to attend city council meetings to learn how local government operates and to give feedback about increasing costs.

“Residents have to understand if they want to keep Fruit Heights a small, bedroom community they’re going to have to pay for it, and that’s expensive,” he said. “As a community, you should be involved with what’s happening so you’re informed. The more people you get involved in the community, I think your community runs better.”

Frandsen is up for the challenge. He’s excited to bring new ideas to Fruit Heights and work with city officials to create a strong environment for connection. Fruit Heights Mayor John Pohlman considers Frandsen a friend and is grateful he gets to continue working with him. 

“Darren has worked for the city in many different roles for over 30 years, and we are excited that he will continue to further his career with Fruit Heights,” said Pohlman. “We appreciate all he has done to quickly learn all the responsibilities of being a city manager and hope to see him work for the city for many more years.”