By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Shortly after the new year starts, Susan Gahlsdorf will finish her transition plan.

Gahlsdorf, Keizer’s Finance Director for the last 18 years, confirmed to the Keizertimes this week she is retiring.

“I am leaving after 18 years with the city,” Gahlsdorf said on Tuesday. “January 8 will be my last day. I have been working through a transition plan for over a year now, not knowing how all of this would work with all the uncertainties of life. But my family responsibilities continue to grow and it’s time for a lifestyle change. I will miss everyone terribly. It has been an honor and privilege working for Keizer.”

Tim Wood, Keizer’s assistant controller who has worked alongside Gahlsdorf for the last six years, is serving as interim Finance Director.

“Susan is transitioning into retirement,” Wood said. “Susan will be with the city for a couple more months. However, she is stepping back from the daily operations. I am serving as the interim Finance Director until the open recruitment process can be completed.”

Wood added he is interested in the job on a full-time basis.

Though one wouldn’t know by looking at her, Gahlsdorf noted she’s been in public service for 34 years. She was previously an auditor for the Oregon Secretary of State. Before that, she worked in the private sector. She has been Finance Director her entire time in Keizer.

Gahlsdorf said there were some projects she pushed hard to see completed before retiring.

Susan Gahlsdorf (far left) is retiring as Keizer’s Finance Director but has been training assistant controller Tim Wood (middle) before she leaves. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

Susan Gahlsdorf (far left) is retiring as Keizer’s Finance Director but has been training assistant controller Tim Wood (middle) before she leaves. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

“I really wanted to see through the Keizer Station LID (Local Improvement District) debt situation and make sure the city was on track with its debt service payments with an income stream that would allow it to pay off its debt when due,” she said. “Unless something unanticipated happens, the city is now on track with its repayment plan.”

According to Gahlsdorf, many city councilors, citizens and other jurisdictions wanted to see the North River Road Urban Renewal District close. That happened at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year in June, a year earlier than scheduled. All outstanding debts for the district were repaid.

“We also repaid interest bearing taxing jurisdictions the remaining debt owed from the Urban Renewal Ninth Amendment,” Gahlsdorf said. “That debt was due in 2021 and it was very gratifying to have it paid off early.”

Gahlsdorf just completed a Request for Proposal process for audit services, which will go to the Keizer City Council in December for approval. She has also been working with Wood for the past year, cross-training him on her responsibilities.

“I felt it important to implement a transition plan to ensure all critical financial functions work properly and timely,” she said.

Gahlsdorf’s last task is to prepare the budget document for fiscal year 2016-17, which starts on July 1.

“By January, I will turn it over to staff to prepare their recommended budgets for the upcoming year,” she said.

Gahlsdorf has appreciated the conservative nature of city leadership in regards to finances.

“In my years of service, I believe the city council and budget committee have been fairly conservative and very thoughtful in making the decisions necessary to keep the city in good shape financially,” she said. “Of course I wish our general fund long-range forecast was stronger. While we’re seeing positive trends with new growth and development, health insurance premiums and retirement rate increases take a toll. Our past practice has been to recognize these challenges and make the necessary adjustments and I am hopeful that will continue going forward.”