Port of Walla Walla hires new audtior/treasurer

Tricia Butler, a CPA, will take over the role July 19, replacing Anna Christen, who was fired by commissioners in May.

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WALLA WALLA -- The Port of Walla Walla has hired a new auditor/treasurer to succeed the employee who was fired from the position in May.

Certified public accountant Tricia Butler will relocate to the Walla Walla area from Boise to begin in her new role July 19, Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said Wednesday.

The Port received her r?©sum?© from a local accounting firm and contacted her for an interview. The agency also advertised for the position. Ultimately, Butler was the standout candidate, staff and commissioners said.

The auditor/treasurer oversees the internal accounting for the agency, which has a revised 2010 budget of about $11.7 million. The job includes everything from payroll to quarterly compliance filings with the state and federal governments.

The position was previously held by Anna Christen, who served about two years in the role when Port commissioners fired her May 27 for "performance issues" that they said created some errors. Commissioners did not elaborate on the errors, but clarified that no illegal activity took place.

Supplemental budgets adopted for the Port and Walla Walla Regional Airport in early May included an additional $14,000 for outside accounting assistance on top of LeMaster Daniels' regular contracts.

The airport budget also had $33,376, reportedly used for additional part-time accounting staff.

In the absence of a full-time auditor/treasurer, the agency has received assistance from LeMaster Daniels. An employee from that firm has been working with the Port, reconciling cash transactions, adjusting entries in the ledger, completing payroll duties and other work in preparation for regular state audits expected later this year.

The auditor/treasurer position generally starts around $60,000 a year, Kuntz has said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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