Council member questions Camp Verde's new economic development position

Melissa Preston's (left) new assignment came as a surprise to Camp Verde Council member Carol German (right).

Melissa Preston's (left) new assignment came as a surprise to Camp Verde Council member Carol German (right).

CAMP VERDE - Last week's announcement by Camp Verde Town Manger Russ Martin that he was developing a development director's position and transitioning Finance Director Melissa Preston into that role has not set well with Councilwoman Carol German.

German says she was surprised to see an article in Friday's Bugle stating that Preston had been hired to fill the economic development directors position, especially after Preston had already resigned her position with the Town and given the fact that the council had never approved the new position.

"I had a conversation with Russ last week and told him I didn't feel he could create the position without the approval of council.

"So I got a little bit upset when I saw the article in the paper, which said he had received a nod from the mayor and council. You can't do that. That's a violation of open meeting law for crying out loud," German said.

German says she does not oppose the idea of creating the position of a development director. Her problem, she says, is with the way some might perceive how the position was created or filled.

"To create a new position, it has to come to council with a job description, and salary range for approval. We set policy and that needs to be done.

"We are an equal opportunity employer so we need to advertise the position. Russ can hire whomever he wants but we should go through the proper procedure. I'm just a little uncomfortable with the way this came down," she said.

For his part, Martin said he accepts fault for any misunderstanding, but said he tried to make it clear to the mayor and council that as far as the official title went, Preston was hired as a temporary fill in for the empty special projects director position.

"We are going to go to the council to officially create the new position," Martin said. "They will have an opportunity to design exactly what that new position is. Internally, it's not a new position. But externally it will be."

Martin said that for the time being Preston has been assigned to the special projects position and is currently helping bring the Town's new software online. She will soon be assisting Martin develop a new, long-term capital improvements plan.

"I thought the honest thing to do was to put out to the public what our plans were. That's the reason we let it be known that we were hiring her to assume the role of economic development director," Martin said.

German said her biggest concern is the public perception that decisions are being made outside of the public process.

"I believe Russ is doing a great job," German said. "My concern is that we have made some great strides from the way things used to be done around here, and I don't want to see us go back there or even have the public even thinking we are going back there."

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