Sonora's search for a new finance director is over.

The city has hired Karen Stark, an accountant and former county controller, to take the place of retiring Finance Director Pat Perry.

"We are very pleased to announce Karen's appointment," Mayor Marlee Powell said at yesterday's City Council meeting. "She is a very worthy successor to Pat, I'm sure."

Perry, whose last day will be Sept. 12, has served as the city's finance director since 1984. She also is the city historian and will continue to work in that unpaid role after her retirement, city Administrator Greg Applegate said.

Stark will start as finance director on Sept. 8.

"I am really excited," she said from her home in Mammoth Lakes. "I like city government and getting involved at that level."

A certified public accountant, Stark, 52, has a background working for rural governments. For eight years, she served as administrative manager for the Mammoth Community Water District. In that role, she was responsible for the special district's financial reporting, billing and customer service, Stark said.

She also worked as a consultant on special projects such as waste disposal for the town of Mammoth Lakes before moving to Colorado for a year to serve as the Garfield County controller, she said. In 2001, she moved back to Mammoth Lakes.

Stark said she enjoys living in a small community.

"I think Sonora will fit well with my background and future career goals," she said.

The city of Sonora does not release exact salary information for its employees. However, Powell said Stark was hired at the third step of the cvity's pay scale for the finance director position. Stark said her salary is about $64,000 a year.

The change in finance directors will save the city about $12,000, Applegate said.

Stark rose to the top of the field during a rigorous hiring process, Applegate said.

The city received 21 applications for the finance director's position, he said. Of those, 16 met the qualifications for the job.