Peggy Minter: Heartbeat of the city
After a decade of service, Wood Village Finance Director Peggy Minter officially retired in November. The Outlook talked dollars, cents, and her years here as a city councilor.
OUTLOOK: Did you decide to become a public servant?
MINTER: Actually, when I started, I made a very specific plan not to work for a private business. I wanted to have my time and effort help other citizens. I didn't want to help just one person who's at the head of that company.
OUTLOOK: You served on council from 1997 to 2007. What was the biggest challenge?
MINTER: We had a lot of issues with inflow and infiltration of the sewer system, which means there are cracks in the sewer pipes and groundwater is getting in.
OUTLOOK: Ew. Sounds gross.
MINTER: People say, 'Oh my God, does that mean that sewage is leaking out?' It isn't. We have such high groundwater here that it pushes into the pipes, and we had excess water flowing through our sewer system, and we were getting charged for it.
That was our biggest challenge and, at this point, we've got it under control 20 years later.
OUTLOOK: You helped establish the Wood Village Town Center, despite the land-use battle started by Gresham, right?
MINTER: The Land Use Board of Appeals problem, it set us back half a decade.
Metro at that time was pushing for (places) where people could shop and live in the same area, and they're still saying that. They wanted to avoid the congestion and traffic.
When you get out into the suburbs like this, it's not really appropriate to be really dense. That's why people come to the suburbs — to have a little more room.
OUTLOOK: What does a finance director do, exactly?
MINTER: I have two main jobs. The first job is the budget.
We cannot go into deficit like the federal (government) can. We have to project our revenues and then fit our expenses into that revenue. It's a very precise process and our city manager, Bill, is very, very keen on making sure we're as close to that as possible.
OUTLOOK: And the other job?
MINTER: My second job is the audit... It's a huge document, and every year I've been here I've gotten this award, and I'm certain we will get one this year too. (It's called) the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
What that means is that we've prepared a report that is concise and easy to follow, so the average person can read it and say, 'They have this much money.'
The back (of the report) is filled with statistics about the city, which is really exciting. We get to see how many people live here, how many police calls, how many fire calls, how much water goes through the pipes.
OUTLOOK: Is there any reason to have a one-square-mile city?
MINTER: We're small, so we can provide better public service to our customers. We can go that extra step, because we know all of our residents (often) on a first-name basis. It's a really different connection than in Gresham.
OUTLOOK: What will you miss most as you head off into retirement?
MINTER: Two things. One is the companionship of all the people I work with. It's a fabulous group of people — I've never had a better team. And there's only 15 of us!
The other thing is being at the heart of everything that's happening for the city. The money is the heartbeat. I'm really going to miss that knowledge — knowing that we have a safe city because our funds are carefully managed.
JUST THE FACTS
Name: Peggy Jo Minter
Education: Undergraduate at Arizona State University, plus a graduate degree from Boston University
Hometown: Hammond, Ind.
Retirement plans: Roadtripping to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Vancouver Island, Taos, New Mexico and Colorado. "I have a history of getting in a camper and going off on my own," she said. "I like to travel."