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The Helena City Commission gave final approval Monday to the contract of incoming City Manager Ana Cortez, who was selected by commissioners in November to succeed interim City Manager Dennis Taylor.

Cortez presently works as the assistant city manager and interim budget and finance director of Yakima, Washington, and was selected Nov. 11 from a pool of 116 applicants and four finalists to succeed Taylor. Her contract provides for a $150,000 base annual salary, $7,500 for moving expenses, an automobile allowance and a monthly housing stipend lasting seven months or until her Yakima home is sold, whichever comes first.

Prior to Monday’s vote, commissioners thanked Taylor for his work in succeeding City Manager Ron Alles, who stepped down at the end of his contract on June 30.

“He brought his years of experience,” said Commissioner Ed Noonan. “He’s been very instructive and creative.”

Taylor, who previously served as city manager from 1999 to 2001, spoke fondly of Cortez’s experience as a public servant and said he anticipates a “smooth” changing of the guard come January.

“In my dealing with her day to day on issues going forward, I’ve enjoyed working with her,” Taylor said. “I think she’s a very proactive and articulate person who has a clear sense of what the commission would like to have done going forward.”

Taylor is contracted to work 10 business days following Cortez’s arrival to help her transition into the new role. The contract Cortez signed Nov. 19 is to serve as city manager from Jan. 23 through the end of 2020.

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