Print Council approves new Town Hall position
Written by {ga=mlineberger}   
Thursday, 25 August 2011 03:00

The Camp Verde Town Council voted 6-1 last week to officially create a new town position with the title of economic development director at its Aug. 17 meeting.

The position will be advertised to applicants, but Russ Martin came up with the idea with Melissa Preston in mind, the town’s former finance director.

Camp Verde's new economic development director, Melissa Preston, was the town's former finance director.Preston was moved out of that job earlier in the summer and moved to the empty special projects manager position; Camp Verde native Mike Showers was hired on as the new finance director.

Town Manager Russ Martin apologized to the council for issuing an earlier statement to the media that made it seem as if Preston had already become the economic development director, as he knew only the elected town council had the authority to create a new position at that level.

The economic development director’s job will entail attracting new business here while also working to retain the ones that already call Camp Verde home.

There’s also the matter of how to pay for a new administrative position in the current poor economic climate.

Martin said that money available from the loss of other town employees who have not been replaced could be moved around in the budget to cover the costs of the economic development director’s salary.

Other employees have or will step up to handle some responsibilities in other town departments.

Councilwoman Carol German cast the lone no vote against creating the new position, arguing that she couldn’t justify paying for it when other town employees are already strained.

“We have severe budget constraints,” German said, pointing out that the town has lost more than 20 employees over the last several years without hiring replacements.

“It’s hard for me to approve anything like that when we’re once again asking staff to step up to the plate and take on even more responsibilities,” German said. “We’re always talking about how we’ve got to cut here, got to cut there and we don’t have the money. I get concerned when I look at this town and the services we’ve cut.”

German said she felt the money could be more useful potentially even giving existing employees a slight raise.

Councilwoman Robin Whatley said she agreed with German’s assessment of the problems, but that hiring an economic development director was the solution to help fix them.

“We survive on sales tax,” Whatley said. “I believe this position will bring in more money, more income in the form of sales tax.”

Whatley pointed to Cottonwood as an example, where she said an economic development director was hard at work actively recruiting businesses to that town.

Clarkdale has also hired an economic development director, Councilman Bruce George said.

German said that she could potentially support creating a position like this if the duties were expanded to cover other work that needs to be done in the town, but in its current form she had to vote no.