|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Thursday, 28 July 2011 05:00|
Melissa Preston is no longer finance director for the Town of Camp Verde.
Instead, Preston has been given a new title and new responsibilities as Camp Verde’s first economic development director.
Town Manager Russ Martin said Preston’s background in economic development makes her ideally suited to work toward marketing Camp Verde while attracting new businesses and retaining the businesses are already here. Preston will also be working on several other special projects as they arise, Martin said, including the upcoming redevelopment of the town’s capital improvements plan.
Martin said with the town feeling the financial pinch from the recent economic downturn, he feels the time is right to be proactive in working to bolster commerce in Camp Verde.
“We have to do something and make an attempt to move the town forward in an economic development direction,” Martin said. “It something that’s long overdue and this is going to give us a chance to make things happen. I don’t want to sit around and then two or three years later wonder if we could have done more.”
Keeping established businesses and bringing new businesses to Camp Verde is especially important in a town that depends heavily on sales taxes for the funding needed to provide services.
“We don’t have a property tax,” Martin said. “I don’t know if this is absolutely going to be successful, but I do know that sitting on our hands is not a strategy.”
The town certainly isn’t flush with cash, but Martin said he was able to move some things around and find money to pay for Preston’s new position. Some of the money will be freed up from a town administrative assistant position currently held by Valerie House — House is leaving the town for a new job elsewhere.
Martin said he’s been involved in economic development efforts in other places he’s worked and he feels Preston’s talent will be better used in that field rather than the finance department.
Preston has been working as the town’s finance director since March. She was the first full-time finance director since 2007 when the previous director was forced out. Since then, the town manager has been serving as the de facto finance director.
Preston’s previous experience in the field includes working as a senior management assistant in Glendale’s economic development department, where in addition to helping the town attract business, she helped manage budget operations for Super Bowl XLII and the Fiesta Bowl.
She holds a master’s degree in educational psychology and human relations and a Bachelor of Science degree in applied management.
In an earlier interview, Preston said finding for ways to bring in more revenue to Camp Verde was definitely an opportunity she was looking forward to pursuing.
Martin said Preston would be working with local groups like the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce, Fort Verde State Historic Park and area businesses along with joining the Verde Valley Leadership group.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Martin said. “But there’s a lot of opportunity out there.”
That extra effort could make all the difference, Martin said, when it comes to the next store that decides to locate at the junction of I-17 and State Route 260 instead of in Cottonwood.
The new move doesn’t leave the town without a finance director, however. Martin said the town hired Michael Showers to fill that role, a Camp Verde man with 13 years of experience as the chief financial officer of Adult Care Services and a background that includes grant and contract management as well as consulting work in the fields of finance and human resources.
Showers had originally applied for the job earlier in the year.
“I made a mistake not having an interview with him,” Martin said. “He’s got a solid background in private business and his credibility is high.”
Showers is already on the job. His first day was July 18.
The finance director is responsible for creating and monitoring the town’s budget, handling all the town’s accounts, assisting with the annual audit and several other fiscal duties.
The position answers directly to the town manager since the Town Council changed things around a couple of years ago. In prior years, the finance director position worked apart from the town manager and answered to the Town Council directly.
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