The city of Lebanon has hired Matthew Apken, a West Linn auditor, as the new finance director for the city.

Apken will start Dec. 18 at an annual salary of $107,352 with $35 per month for a cellphone.

City Manager Gary Marks announced the decision Tuesday. "I am excited about Matt," he said. "Matt comes to us with both the technical and interpersonal skill sets we were hoping to find."

Apken is currently with Merina & Co., LLP, and has worked with the firm six years. For the past three years, he has been senior accountant/staff manager, managing the work of audit teams in the field and in the office.

He is a state-licensed municipal auditor who holds a master’s degree in accounting from Central Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Utah Valley University.

The state license was a big factor in the job offer, Marks said. "Oregon municipal budget law is essential to this position."

Also, Marks said, Apkin's experience managing staff members and working with clients made him an attractive candidate.

"He's got the whole package," Marks said. "We're very hopeful he's going to be able to bring some real strength to the position and we're looking forward to the beginning of his new job."

This is Lebanon's second attempt to find a new finance director after Dean Baugh resigned in July after eight years of service. Assistant finance director Tina Huff has been filling in for the interim. 

The city held a public meet-and-greet in October with two finalists for the position but decided to keep seeking a successor.

Marks said this time applications were evaluated one at a time as they were received. A candidate who met basic qualifications was given an interview. 

It's Marks' job to hire for the position, but he said he always does so with input from staff and a hiring committee, and keeps the City Council informed.

Of Apken's application, he said: "I think we got lucky."

Apken said his auditing experience has provided him with a lot of experience in seeing how different cities run and he's looking forward to bringing those skills to the job.

He and his wife and three children, ages 5, 3 and 2, currently live in Canby but he said they will be moving to the mid-valley. Golf, church and community activities are among his hobbies.

"I'm looking forward to this opportunity, and to working with Gary and the rest of the city employees in making the city a better place," he said.