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BREAKING: City finance director resigns

After 13 years in Ironton’s Finance Department, Kathy Elam is resigning.

Elam dropped the bombshell on city council on Thursday night during an executive session, which are closed to the public.

Council chairman Bob Cleary said they were caught unaware by Elam’s decision to quit.

“I was totally surprised,” he said. “It was a shock, we didn’t know she was considering this until the executive session. It’s a great loss to the city.”

Elam said she is stepping down because she is tired and the job requires 60-plus hours a week.

“It’s definitely a hard decision,” she said, adding that her husband is retired and she wants to spend more time with him. Elam has worked in the finance department since 1995 and came out of semi-retirement two years ago to be the interim finance director until someone else could be hired.

Elam’s resignation will take effect on Aug. 1 and she has offered her services on a part-time basis until council can find a replacement.

“I am willing to help all I can but I don’t want to put all the hours in anymore,” Elam said.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said he was very surprised when Elam told him Friday morning.

“It’s been a pleasure working with her,” Blankenship said, adding she brought a lot of experience to the job. “She knows the ins and outs of municipal financing and that was a big plus for the city.”

Cleary said council will begin advertising for applications for a new finance director and that he thinks it should be easier than the last couple of times when the council tried to fill the position. He said that municipal finance is a tough job because of all the state and federal requirements cities must meet.

“It’s a big, big responsibility,” said Cleary. “But when you have somebody like Kathy who has been doing it for this many years, it just come natural to her.”

Cleary, Mike Lutz and Kevin Waldo will be the council’s search committee.

“We are going to start reviewing applications as soon as possible,” he said, adding that other council members were invited to be involved as much as they want.

He said he believes council won’t have the same problems attracting a finance director as they did a couple of years ago because of a recent change. Part of the issue for many applicants was the residency requirement for the position. In November, voters elected to eliminate the residency clause. Cleary feels that it will widen the pool of candidates.

“Two years ago when we were looking, we had a lot of good candidates that were willing to commute but not live in the city because they had children in school,” he said. “I think the change will open the number of qualified applicants. It should be easier than last time.”

Elam said she doesn’t have another job at this time.

“I haven’t had much time to do the things I want to do,” she said. “I want to cut back and relax.”