Island County commissioners want the public to see the annual budget as more than a list of numbers.
Tasked with making this shift and creating the document each year is Doug Martin, former deputy director of the auditor’s office, and now new budget manager.
“From the board’s perspective, the budget is our largest policy document and it has become clear over the years that we needed to do a better job of communicating our policy decisions and the reasons behind them to the community,” Commissioner Jill Johnson said in an email.
The increased workload was too much for the past budget director because she is also the county risk manager and director of the general services administration.
During 2018 budget discussions, the board created the budget manager position and placed it within the commissioners’ office.
The placement was done “intentionally to ensure that both visibly and functionally the position answered to the board,” Johnson said.
Martin, who was hired at the end of December, seemed an ideal fit with his experience both within Island County and budget-creation experience in much larger organizations.
“I enjoy budget,” Martin said. “It’s my forte.”
Before coming to Whidbey Island, Martin worked for 18 years as the chief financial officer of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
That department in California alone had more employees than all of Island County government.
“He definitely brings a strong financial background and an understanding of local government,” said Commissioner Helen Price Johnson.
Martin said his favorite part of the new job is collaborating with all of the different departments and “helping them help themselves.”
To do that, Martin will collect data from different divisions within the government to help move to a more “performance-based” budget.
Martin said he’ll give the commissioners information such as how many people were incarcerated last year and how many miles of roads were resurfaced to help them decide where resources are needed.
The information collected will also help Martin in his goal to communicate to the public why certain financial decisions are made.
“It’s a very customer-service-based approach,” Price Johnson said.
Martin has been working with numbers for much of his professional career.
After high school, he joined the Air Force and studied accounting while he was on active duty.
After leaving the military, he got his master’s degree in accounting and worked for a large accounting firm.
“I like the challenge of bringing resources together to meet the needs,” Martin said.
“How do we put all the pieces of the puzzles together?”
Martin lives south of Coupeville with his wife Linda Martin and their Lhasa Apso puppy.
Martin said they moved to Whidbey in 2016 because they enjoyed the slower pace of life and natural beauty.
Although he isn’t a longtime resident, Martin said it’s his goal to become fully enmeshed within the community.
He plays saxophone on the Whidbey All-Island Community Band and serves as a commissioner on the Ledgewood Beach Water District.
The new job offers yet another opportunity to help his neighbors in Island County.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing,” Martin said.
“I do this because I want to, and I feel like I’m making a contribution.”