Salem City Hall (Salem Reporter files)

The city of Salem has hired a chief financial officer, an ostensibly new position of budget expertise, the city announced Monday.

Robert Barron started Monday, according to the announcement. He will oversee the city's budget in a time of rising costs, which have led to proposals to trim positions and reduce funding for a program that helps homeless people afford housing.

The CFO position replaces two previous jobs: the deputy city manager position, which has been vacant since last fall, and the budget officer, who is expected to retire this year.

Barron will make $150,000 per year, according to city spokesman Kenny Larson.

The city's announcement said Barron "quickly rose to the top during the rigorous and thorough hiring/due diligence process."

"Bob's combination of experience, skills and accomplishments will be invaluable in guiding Salem's budget and finances," said City Manager Steve Powers in a press release. "We are thrilled to add him to our team."

Barron was most recently the CFO of the city of Norwalk, Conn. His resume includes stints as director of finance at the city of West Haven, Conn. and the company FSI Holding. He holds a Master of Business in Finance from the University of Missouri, according to the city's release.

In February, City Manager Steve Powers wrote in a public update that the CFO will oversee the city's comprehensive finances: managing debt and investments, overseeing contracts and purchasing.

Salem City Council is ultimately responsible for approving the city's annual budget, which is also reviewed by a budget committee.

The cuts proposed in the latest budget aim to save Salem's general fund approximately $2.5 million in the next year and $700,000 in the future, according to city officials. That's to head off forecasts showing the city would be short $6 to $8 million by 2023.

Salem City Council will review that budget this month.

Looming over Salem's budget discussions, however, is the possibility of new taxes. The city is considering new utility fees or an employee-paid payroll tax that could bring millions into the city’s general fund.

Some of those revenue-generating ideas could be enacted by Salem City Council, or they could be put to voters.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, troy@salemreporter.com or @TroyWB.

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