The Ashland City Council appointed a Southern Oregon University senior financial analyst and a retired business manager of Ashland School District (ASD) to fill vacant seats on the Citizen’s Budget Committee at its Jan. 16 meeting.
“I’m very impressed with the pool we have this year,” Councilor Rich Rosenthal said, adding it’s not common to have members reapply after their terms end.
The spots became vacant as the terms of committee members Saladin Amery and Mary Cody expired this year. They both reapplied for their seats, but the council instead chose SOU senior financial analyst Shane Hunter and retired ASD business manager Pamela Lucas.
Hunter has been working at SOU since 2011 in various positions, including interim finance director, financial analyst and research analyst, according to his resume. He also works as a financial analyst for CFO Solutions NW since 2014. Hunter holds master's and bachelor's degrees in business administration from SOU and has lived in Ashland for eight years, his application reads.
Lucas was the business manager of ASD from 2005 to 2008 and the financial director of Tillamook School District from 2002 to 2005, according to her resume. Before that, Lucas worked as a financial coordinator in Washington and an accounting analyst for Tillamook County Creamery Association. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting from Idaho State University.
Each councilor and Mayor John Stromberg picked their top two choices for the vacant seats. Councilor Traci Darrow was absent at the meeting. Both Hunter and Lucas individually received four votes out of the total of 12 votes.
Amery got two votes; Cody got none.
Retired accountant and teacher Jim Bachman also applied for the seat. He received two votes.
Ashland’s Budget Committee is made up of seven appointed citizens along with members of the council and the mayor, per Oregon law.
Its primary goal, as an advisory board to the council, is to “ensure expenditures do not exceed revenues,” hold public hearings regarding proposed budgets and set the ad valorem property taxes, the city’s webpage reads.
The committee does not have authority to change staffing levels or adjust the city’s budgetary priorities, the webpage further reads.
Citizen members of the committee clashed with the city last year during the budget season for the fiscal bennium 2017-19, as they raised questions about city’s expenditures and proposed cuts to programs.
To improve the working relationship between the citizen members and the city, the City Council formed an ad hoc budget process committee, made up of city councilors, citizen members and staff, in July 2017.
The council further accepted the ad hoc committee’s recommendation in December to meet more often, improve the content, layout and format of the budget, and follow a training guide that includes the budget process legal framework.
“I think the process that has been laid out is good and refreshing,” Darrow said of the recommendations that will provide more transparency and education to committee members.
— Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at email@example.com or 541-776-4485. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.