Diane Foster tapped as city manager, completing rise through ranks
Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council on Monday tapped Diane Foster as the next Park City manager, choosing someone with a business and marketing background who has worked in both the public and private sectors.
Foster has been the interim city manager since late August, following the departure of Tom Bakaly as city manager for the same job in a Southern California beach town. She was the deputy city manager prior to Bakaly’s departure and served as the environmental sustainability manager before that. She started her City Hall career in 2008.
Foster is 49 years old and lives in Wanship. She said she has no plans to move into Park City for now. Foster explained a City Hall rule that allows a Park City manager to live outside the city limits if granted a waiver to the requirement that they live in the city. She said the City Council intends to grant her a waiver so she can remain in Wanship.
Foster was selected over an undisclosed number of City Hall staffers who applied for the position in recent weeks, as the elected officials conducted an internal search following a national one that did not yield a hiring. Foster said she is excited with the promotion.
"I think it’s a huge opportunity," Foster said, adding that her selection reflects well on the work of City Hall staffers and is a "huge vote of confidence for the team at the city."
Had the elected officials desired a change in the direction of City Hall, she said, they would have chosen someone from outside the organization to be the next city manager.
Foster’s selection is expected to be formalized at a City Council meeting on Thursday. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. The City Council is scheduled to vote on her appointment and an employment agreement with her. The agreement calls for her to earn $128,083.45 in salary per year. She will also be eligible for bonuses and will receive a car allowance of $400 per month.
Foster said she does not intend to make significant changes in the structure of City Hall and said she does not plan to alter the culture of the municipal government. She will start just weeks before the annual City Hall budget talks begin, and she sees the budget as a priority.
Foster, meanwhile, lists a series of topics that she anticipates will be addressed in coming months. They include long-range plans for the lower Park Avenue corridor, the talks about the future of the Rocky Mountain Power site in Bonanza Park and the ongoing redo of City Hall’s General Plan, a document that guides growth in the city. She also said road crews will be working on Empire Avenue and Deer Valley Drive this year.
Foster worked in the high tech sector as well as spending time at American Skiing Company and backcountry.com. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and is enrolled in a master’s of public administration program at the University of Utah.
She said the time in the private sector — 22 years — prepared her for government work, describing City Hall as not a stereotypical public sector employer.
"This organization, people get things done. They are high performers," Foster said.
Foster will be the second consecutive city manager hired from within the City Hall ranks. Bakaly worked his way up the municipal government hierarchy before his hiring in 2003. The last time a newcomer to the municipal government held the city manager position was when Toby Ross was hired in 1989.
The hiring will come seven months after Bakaly’s departure. The elected officials conducted a national recruitment for a successor in the fall. The recruitment failed to yield a hiring, leading to an internal search. Foster did not submit her name as a candidate during the national search. Had no one been hired internally, another national search was planned.
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Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin once landed in Deer Valley Resort for the Merrill Lynch Celebrity Ski Classic races. He spoke to The Park Record during the visit in 2004 about topics like America eventually embarking on a mission much more ambitious than the moon landings – a trip to Mars.