It's all about the money

Four months since Rich Hanna was forced from the helm, Bremerton City Council members shook hands with a newly appointed finance director, Michael Wilson, last Tuesday at their planning meeting.

Wilson, 53, is the chief administrative officer for Cowlitz County, and will trade his long commute from his Gig Harbor home to Kelso for a half hour weekday drive to city hall.

He will also swap his $105,000 annual paycheck in Cowlitz for $89,519 working for the city of Bremerton.

Wilson replaces Dick Saunders, who served for four months in an interim role after 16 year finance director Rich Hanna was asked to resign.

Wilson’s duties will be to oversee a $190.8 million biennial budget, and although Wilson will have a hands on role with financial reports, he will spend a large amount of his time overseeing the budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, and debt management for the city.

Wilson has clear goals for his new role at the city, which starts Dec. 1.

“I can really help the mayor in providing some strong leadership for very stressed departments,” he said.

“We’ve got employees out there that in some cases are doing the job of two people.”

Wilson’s first priority in office is to sit down with the six workers he oversees.

“With the internal staff I will find out from them what their highest priorities are, what they want to see done, and what’s going to help them out.”

A few things led Wilson to accept the job.

Besides the fact the city is undergoing a revitalizatoin with the conference center and new housing developments, Wilson likes the community.

“A lot of the projects going on here are projects I have had similar experience with,” said the man with 26 years of previous government experience.

The city received 24 applicants for the finance director position, which a committee of Mayor Bozeman, Special Assistant to the Mayor Sherril Huff Menees, council member Eric Younger and Assistant Treasurer Cathy Johnson narrowed down to Wilson.

Wilson graduated from Washington State University in 1972, and received his law degree three years later from Western State College of Law in San Diego.

He has worked in Kelso, Sammamish, Sumner, Gig Harbor, SeaTac, Olympia, Tacoma and Port Angeles since 1976, though his longest stint in any job was four years.

Mayor Bozeman isn’t worried if Wilson doesn’t hang around in Bremerton forever.

“I wouldn’t want people working for us that other people aren’t interested in hiring,” the Mayor said.

He appointed Wilson because he wanted someone to find economic development opportunities for Bremerton, someone that could get a long with people, and that could lobby and network.

He hopes Wilson will help produce tax incentive packages to lure businesses to the area.

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