ST. GEORGE — After serving as the city manager for Washington City for 16 years, Roger Carter recently announced he is taking a full-time position with Southern Utah University.
Carter’s last day with Washington City is Aug. 23, a month after he submitted his letter of resignation to the Washington City Council and the city staff.
“It is with mixed emotion that I provide you this letter indicating that, after sixteen years, I will be stepping down as the Washington City Manager,” Carter wrote. “You can’t have this many years in any position without feeling a great deal of sadness and satisfaction with all of the moments, accomplishments and relationships… However new opportunities and adventures await the next chapter of my life.”
Carter has been an adjunct professor with SUU’s Master of Public Administration program since 2010. He told St. George News that when the opportunity came up to take a full-time, tenured position on the university faculty, “it felt like the right moment” and he acted on it.
“All the pieces kind of fell together,” he said, adding that he didn’t know when another opportunity for this type of position at the university would arise. “I’m very humbled and honored they reached out and said, ‘We would love to have you join us as our faculty here in the public administration program.’”
The public administration program at SUU is one of three of its kind in Utah, alongside the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. SUU’s program is also the only one in the state that offers the full course in-class and online.
Working online has worked out very well, given the pandemic, Carter said.
Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said Carter has “always has been a teacher at heart,” adding that the city manager would sometimes take city staff aside and teach them about what needed to be done. “I’m pretty sad to see him go, but it’s a new adventure for him.”
Despite taking the full-time position in Cedar City, Carter said he and his wife have no plans to move.
“I’ve just loved the community,” Carter said. “This is our town.”
Carter became the city manager in 2004 after serving in the same position in Santaquin, Utah, for four years. Among the first jobs he had when he came to Washington City – which had a population of around 14,000 at the time – was organizing a police department.
While Carter said he was quite proud of that achievement, when he talked about both this accomplishment and others, he said they were “clearly a team effort.”
Another project Carter said he is very proud to have been involved in was the building of the Washington City Community Center.
“This facility has and will continue to benefit the countless numbers of youth that will continue to come through and live in Washington City,” he said, adding he believes the community center plays a part in what attracts some people to move to Washington City.
Neilson gave additional credit to Carter in regard to the community center, saying he was instrumental in finding funding for the project.
Other accomplishments of note Carter listed include seeing the city’s general fund increase from $11 million to $20 million, the building of a power generation plant in the city, seeing public transit finally come and the building of many new parks and roads.
Among the accomplishments that Neilson credited to Carter was planning for infrastructure necessary for the city’s immense growth.
“He has been the city manager through the explosion of growth in Washington City,” Neilson said.
Since taking on the position of city manager, Washington City has grown to an estimated population of 33,000. Of those people, 1 in 6 has moved into the city in the last three years, Carter said, adding it was a “phenomenal number.”
Neilson also said Carter has a “brilliant financial mind,” which the mayor said has saved the city millions of dollars through the reworking of city bonds and other items.
Something else that Carter has appreciated over the years is the friendship and associations he’s built with city staff and citizens while in the role of city manager. He will be missed in return, Neilson said.
“I count Roger as a close, personal friend.”
Carter said he’ll also miss the sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to improve the quality of life for the city’s residents.
“At the end of the day, what we do in government is try to make the quality of life better for the citizens,” he said. “That’s the sense of satisfaction you get when you can do that.”
Carter’s last day as the Washington City manager will be Aug. 23. The city will be hosting an open house for Carter on Aug. 18 from 4-6 p.m. at City Hall council chambers. Those in attendance should observe social distancing and mask requirements.
Neilson said the city has already released a public noticed seeking a new city manager.
“I suspect there will not be a lack of applications,” Carter said.
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