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City of Sunnyside hires new finance director

The city of Sunnyside will start the new year with a new finance director, announcing yesterday that Jordan Arreola will fill the post beginning Jan. 29, 2007.

Arreola has held the same position with the city of Toppenish for the past two-and-a-half years and will replace Scott James, who officially leaves the Sunnyside post on Dec. 31.

In a press release issued yesterday, City Manager Bob Stockwell said James resigned as the city's finance director to pursue "other professional and family opportunities."

Arreola , a Wapato resident, has a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Washington. She also has experience in governmental finance with Washington State University and "private sector experience with a major accounting firm", Stockwell noted in the press release.

Speaking by phone this morning, Stockwell said Arreola's experience and education were the top factors in hiring her. "It's comforting to know we could find some one with such high credentials in a short recruiting time."

He added that Arreola's familiarity with the Yakima Valley will be a plus.

"We are different from the west side of Washington. Our economy is different, our demographics are different," Stockwell said. "It helps to have someone who has worked in this environment and knows how we have to deal with things differently."

Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik said he has "a lot of confidence" in Stockwell's decision to hire Arreola . "I'm looking forward to working with this new person," he said.

Prilucik also reflected on James' contributions during his 18 month-stay with the city, saying he and Stockwell restructured the financial department.

"Between those two we've got a much better situation," said Prilucik.

Mayor pro tem Jim Restucci noted that James moved the city forward in fully utilizing a new financial software package.

That forward progress is highlighted in the contrast between the city's 2004 and 2005 state audits.

The state found nine issues related to the city's finances in the 2004 audit.

In the 2005 audit, released last week and the first under Stockwell and James' watch, the state found "no instances of noncompliance".

"Scott helped us really implement several elements of our software that had been idle for years," Stockwell said. "He helped us get through a lot of those issues."

James' last day with Sunnyside is officially listed as Dec. 31, but he has already left the city office and is on vacation with his family. Stockwell said James submitted his resignation on Dec. 4.

Sunnyside will be without a finance director for nearly a month, until Arreola starts work with the city in late January.

During the interim, Stockwell said an assistant finance director will be filling in most of the day-to-day duties for the finance director position. Stockwell said he will assist where needed.

"The audit is finished and the budget is done," Stockwell observed. "It's turned out to be a pretty good time to go through a transition."

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