VIRGINIA CITY – The Montana Heritage Commission is moving forward with hiring an executive director after holding off filling the position over the winter.
The commission met Thursday in Virginia City and decided to revise the executive director’s job description and then advertise for the position, said Montana Heritage Commission chair Marilyn Ross.
During the meeting, Ross gave a brief history of the past 16 months since the last executive director Paul Reichert resigned. Since then Ross has served as acting executive director based in Virginia City.
Last year the Montana Heritage Commission faced some significant financial problems, she said. As a result, the commission decided to undergo a major reorganization that included reducing staff and restructuring the leadership by creating a cultural resource manager and business manager.
“We simply didn’t have the money to pay that many salaries,” Ross said. “We knew we had to reduce expenditures by about $400,000 a year.”
The reorganization was difficult, but has left the heritage commission in a better position financially, she said.
“The upside is all of us who were involved in that whole effort are confident in where we are now with the size of our staff,” Ross said.
The commission budgeted for an executive director and was looking for one last fall, but decided not to fill the position.
Instead the commission decided to fill the business manager position and hired Elijah Allen, Ross said.
“The executive director’s position was approved and it was budgeted for as well as the two manager positions and the grant writer’s position,” Ross told the commission Thursday.
Along with leaving the executive director’s position empty, the heritage commission has also opted to leave open the grant writer’s position.
As the heritage commission moves forward with hiring an executive director, the first task will be revising the job description for the position, Ross said after the meeting.
Ideally, an executive director will be involved in promoting heritage commission activities in Virginia and Nevada Cities as well as over seeing the entire operation. The executive director will also be active during the legislative sessions, she said.
Ross didn’t have a timetable when the position would be advertised, but a search committee has been established and once the job description is done, she expects the job announcement to officially open.