Finance director#8217;s residency on ballot

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

An amendment on the November ballot would change the residency requirement for Ironton city finance director.

The city has gone through a number of finance directors in the past decade with many of them only staying a few months.

Mayor John Elam said his concern is having a qualified person in the position.

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“Our interim finance director, Kathy Elam, is very much an asset to the city of Ironton,” the mayor said. “She has done an exemplary job and is always looking at cost-effective measures for the city. I think she is well-qualified for the position.”

Kathy Elam, who lives in South Point, has been the interim director for the past year after the Ironton City Council appointed her. Because she is an acting director, it gets around the residency requirement.

“If we did not have a finance director, it would be like having a body without a head,” John Elam said. “The finance director is ultimately responsible for all the financial matters of the city, for state reporting and other necessary reports. It’s good to have someone who is looking out for the city of Ironton and Kathy has done a wonderful job with that.”

In March 2006, Cindy Anderson left the finance director position after two decades in the finance department. In April of that year, Michael Keeney was given the job but he later declined it. In the same month, Robin Robinson rejected the job of city finance director less that two weeks after she was named to the position by the city council. In May, assistant finance director Karol Moore resigned. In September 2006, Rob Thompson resigned the position after four months and Kathy Elam, who was the assistant director, was appointed to take his place.

The trouble city council is finding and retaining a finance director is the residency requirement, which is not mandatory for all city department heads. For instance, there is no residency requirement for either the police chief or the fire chief.

City Councilman Rick Meeks said he would like to see the charter amendment pass.

“It makes it tougher to find and retain someone because of the requirement,” he said. “I think Kathy Elam has done a good job and I would hate to see us change (finance directors) when Ironton is making progress. And they would still have to pay the same city income tax, there is no advantage of not living in town.”

“We have a good staff in the finance department and I would like to see them stay,” he added.

Councilman Richard Price said he could see both sides of the issue.

“Before we went looking for a finance director, I would have been firmly against it but after the process we went through to find a finance director who is willing to move to the city, it’s obvious to me that we need to expand our horizons,” he said.

He too thinks Kathy Elam does a good job.

“If this amendment gets voted down, then we willing be looking for a finance director again,” Price said.

Councilman Leo Johnson said he thinks it would be a good amendment change for the citizens to vote for. He said part of the difficulty with the search last year was the salary

He said part of the reason that it has been hard to find and retain a finance director is that the money just isn’t there.

“Just the sheer fact that the salary is not conducive to bring someone in to fill the position,” he said. “To get someone to move here, we are going to have to look at the salary structure if the amendment doesn’t pass.”

Johnson said he thinks that it would be great if the city finance director did live in Ironton.

“But this is not the 1980s, Dayton Malleable is gone, the hospital is gone, we don’t have the tax base we used to,” he said.