The City of Jacksonville swore in their new City Treasurer tonight.
Beth Hopkins, Emergency Management Systems Program Coordinator, was appointed by Mayor Andy Ezard to fill the role left by the late Ron Smiljanich. Smiljanich died at his home on November 23rd at the age of 73. Smiljanich was in the midst of his fifth term in office at the time of his death.
Ezard tearfully recounted Smiljanich in the announcement tonight at the Jacksonville City Council’s regular meeting saying that both he and Ron eventually wanted Hopkins to step into the role at some point in the future.
Ezard said through tears that he has the utmost faith in Hopkins in fulfilling the duties of her late predecessor: “Ron wanted this, and I wanted this. I miss Ron Smiljanich. He was my go-to. Everything went through Ron and me about money [for the city], but I have the most faith in Beth Hopkins to fill his seat. I’m so proud…I grew up with Beth. We went to Franklin Elementary School together…It is what Ron wanted, and I wanted it, too. I am so looking forward to working with you, Beth as City Treasurer…I think it would be appropriate to take 20 seconds and bow our heads and remember Ron. He was a gem. He was a true gem to Jacksonville…He really did a great job as a treasurer. He had the best interests at heart and he worked the banks on behalf of the city, and he was one of my best friends.”
Hopkins says she hopes to maintain the level of service that Smiljanich gave in his 21 years in office to the Jacksonville community: “Very big shoes to fill. Ron did a great job for this community. He served this community very well. I’m looking forward to continuing that service. I want to maintain the legacy that’s been set forth. I need to get in and see what Ron has done. I’m sure I’m going to have a big learning curve, and again, they are big shoes to fill.”
Hopkins says that she’s stepping into a good situation in the Treasurer’s Office. The city council passed the second reading of the 2022 tax levy tonight with a 0% increase, and police and fire pension funding has improved over the last year.
Hopkins says she’s fortunate in the timing and with the people that surround her in the City Treasurer’s Office. She says her current job in the Emergency Management Office and her prior work in the police department afford her a broad view of the city’s operations: “I have worked for the city for a very long time, and I’ve been kind of all over with the Emergency Management. You kind of work with all of the departments. There is a lot of grant management, and many things like that to make us constantly work with the other departments.” Hopkins believes that working in various capacities over the years provides a unique versatility to the office: “I know a lot of what the city does to operate, but I know there is a lot left to learn.”
Hopkins’ official term begins on January 3rd.