Aspen finance director Menter exits | AspenTimes.com

Aspen finance director Menter exits

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” After five years of overseeing the public’s money, city Finance Director Paul Menter announced on Tuesday that he’s stepping down.

Menter has accepted the job of finance director with the Aspen Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by the Aspen Skiing Co.

The foundation in 2006 had more than $30 million in assets. It distributed $4.8 million to more than 250 nonprofits in 2006, with 77 percent distributed to local organizations.

The move is a complete departure for Menter, who has worked in the public sector for 20 years.

“I was approached by the foundation, and it’s a great chance to be part of an organization that makes social change in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Menter said. “It’s a great opportunity for me.”

City Manager Steve Barwick said Menter’s resignation is a blow to the public organization, which has benefited enormously from his expertise.

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“He has been a superb finance director,” Barwick said. “He has a reputation of being one of the strongest finance directors in the state.”

Barwick said under Menter’s leadership, the city of Aspen’s systems are much better in terms of accounting and budgeting. Menter also has dramatically improved City Hall’s investment portfolio and has done outstanding financial planning work, Barwick said.

“It’s a shame to see him go,” Barwick said. “I’m sure the community foundation will be happy to have him as their finance director.”

He added that Menter deserves a change from what can be a grueling schedule, with many night meetings with the City Council.

“He’s been putting in a lot of hours for a lot of years,” Barwick said.

Menter said he’ll miss working at City Hall and with his staff, who he described as some the hardest working people in city government. But he won’t miss the schedule, he joked.

“Monday and Tuesday nights might be more family oriented,” he laughed.

With the city’s acquisition of BMC West and an aggressive plan to purchase and fund hundreds of units of affordable housing, Barwick was relying on Menter’s knowledge and skills to create financing packages. And he hopes to still tap that expertise from time to time.

“I hope to have him involved in the city,” Barwick said, adding perhaps Menter can act as an consultant in the future.

Menter acknowledges that much work needs to be done but is confident that his successor can handle it.

“Bottom line, it’s not a perfect time to leave because there is a lot going on in the city,” Menter said, adding he won’t be far ” just a few blocks away at the foundation’s office in the Red Brick school. “I will help with a smooth transition and I plan to help the city in anyway I can.”

Menter’s tenure provided stability within the department when he replaced former finance director Bill Powell, who was on the job for a little over a year. Before that Tabatha Miller served in the position for two years and before that it was Doug Smith. Barwick was hired as Aspen’s finance director in 1991 before being promoted to the city manager’s office.

“The stability really helped,” Menter said. “People really could shine and grow.”

Menter has just finished presenting the city’s 2008 budget, which will be the largest in Aspen’s history at more than $47 million. The City Council is expected to approve the budget on Monday.

Menter’s last day will be Dec. 21. He will start at the foundation on Jan. 8.

Barwick will soon open the application process and will most likely conduct a national search for a new finance director.

Menter has worked in local government in Indiana, Florida, Washington state and Colorado. He has a master’s degree in public affairs from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington. He graduated with a double major in urban management and public finance. He also graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in economics.

Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is csack@aspentimes.com.

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