BeMiller resigns as city of Kent finance director

Job, hours caused too much stress

Aaron BeMiller

Aaron BeMiller

Aaron BeMiller says he resigned as the city of Kent finance director because the long hours and the work took a toll on him emotionally and physically.

BeMiller worked nearly five years for the city. He left a job as finance director and county treasurer for Clatsop County in Oregon to come to Kent and previously worked as the budget manager for Pierce County.

“My personal relationships suffered with my family and friends,” BeMiller said during a phone interview. “I became strained. After a conversation with the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson) and the mayor (Dana Ralph), it was in the best interest to amicably part ways.”

BeMiller, 50, lives with his wife in Tacoma. He said he has been in conversations with other entities, but has no agreement for a new job.

“I’m working on being present for my family and friends,” he said.

BeMiller helped get the city on stronger financial footing as Kent will lose about $4.7 million per year in annexation sales tax credit that ends in June 2020 for the 2010 Panther Lake annexation. The state set up a 10-year funding program to help the city take on more residents.

The city also could lose about about $5 million a year in streamlined sales tax mitigation, although city leaders hope the Legislature still will give Kent at least some mitigation funds. The funds were set up by the state to help compensate Kent for revenue lost when legislators changed the state in 2008 from an origin-based system for local retail sales tax to a destination-based system, taking away city tax revenue from its many warehouses.

“I can honestly say over five years we made incredible strides on the financial outlook for the city,” said BeMiller, who was hired by then-Mayor Suzette Cooke in 2014 to replace Bob Nachlinger, who retired after 10 years on the job.

The city started a business and occupation tax in 2013 and will greatly increase the tax over the next 10 years to help compensate for the loss of state revenue. BeMiller and Ralph led a budget roadshow last year to answer questions from residents about the shortfalls and new revenue options.

Deputy Finance Director Barbara Lopez is the interim finance director until a replacement for BeMiller is hired.

“We’re seeking proposals from executive search firms and hope to have a new director on board this fall,” said Dana Neuts, city spokeswoman, in an email.

The city hired a consultant for $60,000 in 2014 to find replacements for the chief administrative officer and finance director.

BeMiller said he enjoyed his nearly five years with the city of Kent.

“I loved working there,” he said. “It’s some of the best work years I’ve had. I wish everybody with the city the very best. They have a great team. I will miss working with them.”

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