Answers still needed in Washougal

After many months of being in limbo, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard officially announced last night that the city finally found the person who would permanently step into the finance director position.

With council approval, Jennifer Forsberg will begin her work at the city of Washougal next week. With experience in the state auditor’s office and credentials that seem stellar, she looks like a really good fit to lead the city of Washougal toward a more positive financial future.

This is a significant development, given that the previous director, Jeffrey Bivens, was fired for being unable to meet the requirements of his job, among other things.

But in his comments about the hiring of Forsberg, Guard said: “I’m not sure the city could have made a better hire — in terms of closing out that chapter and bringing integrity back to that important position.”

But really, this chapter in the city’s history isn’t and certainly shouldn’t be completely closed. There is still the “minor” matter of at least $100,000 that went missing in 2008 and 2009 from city-sponsored festivals including Washougalfest and Riverfest. Some revenues from the farmers market in 2009 are also unaccounted for.

In its investigation, the auditor’s office was unable to determine what happened to the money — primarily because certain individuals refused to cooperate. However, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office is now handling the investigation — as requested by Guard. In theory, this should give more teeth to the process of solving this puzzle.

It is understandable that the city would want to distance itself from the black cloud that has hung over it in the wake of the departure of former Mayor Stacee Sellers and Bivens. But the mayor and council members should continue to stay on top of this issue, demand that answers be found, and see to it that one or more individuals are eventually held accountable and that the findings are made public.

This, at the very least, is what the taxpaying citizens of Washougal deserve.

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