Friday, September 01, 2006

City Still Lacks Finance Director

Eight months into the new administration and two months into the new fiscal year, there is no permanent finance director.

Of three department heads mandated by the city’s special charter, the director of Administration & Finance heads the largest number of divisions. Due to a reshuffling by former Mayor Mark Fury more than a decade ago, the department includes social services as well as the tax collector, tax assessor, comptroller, audit and control and others in key financial roles.

When the administration changed Jan. 1, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs appointed former City Administrator Norton Bonaparte to serve as finance director in acting capacity. Bonaparte left the city in March to become the first city manager of Topeka, Kan. and since then, Carlton McGee has been both city administrator and acting finance director. The city’s 90-day limit on acting positions ran out in June for the finance director post, but officials downplayed the lack of a permanent director.

The Robinson-Briggs administration must soon unveil the 2006-07 budget, the first one of its own creation since the mayor took office halfway through the past fiscal year. While the city administrator is charged in the charter with helping the mayor put together both current expense and capital budget, budget information flows through the finance department.

In early July, mayoral mentor and Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Green said the city was looking for someone with “multiple talents“ in finance and administration to head the department.

“We have expanded the search outside the city,“ he said then.

Green said the administration was hoping to have someone on board within 60 days.

That’s right about now.

--Bernice Paglia


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