Audit Report Spurs Concern
The city is now in its third year without a permanent chief financial officer, a title required by the state. The state Division of Local Government Services last fall demanded that the city stop using acting or interim CFOs to certify funding was available before the governing body voted on spending, but the same person who was signing certifications at the time of the admonishment is still doing so.
The administration contends there is a lack statewide of certified CFOs for hire. Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs specifically stated Monday that candidates will not come to Plainfield for the pay offered, which prompted Councilman Cory Storch to ask her directly whether the administration was willing to hire a CFO at “market rate.”
The mayor responded that the city has someone ”performing the duties” of a CFO. One of the questions being asked of candidates, she said, is whether they can be available by April.
“We are near - we are close. We are making strides,” she said.
In addition, the city’s special charter requires three department heads, one being a director of Administration & Finance. The role was expanded in the mid-1990s to include oversight of health and social services. During the first four years of the mayor’s incumbency, the title was handed off half a dozen times to various individuals. Her second term began Jan. 1 with Bibi Taylor named acting city administrator as well as acting AFH&SS director. Taylor was scheduled to leave Jan. 31, but has been appointed city administrator for a four-year term concurrent with the mayor’s. However, no one else has been named to head the department.
Looking at the audit report which all council members must sign, Councilman William Reid said he read it and understands it, but deplored the findings. Reid said they showed a city that is not doing what it should do, that there were repeat findings and more than before. While he said he could understand the problems in the absence of a CFO and a finance director, he asked for a consultant to come in quarterly “to review and question people” who are supposed to be taking care of fiscal matters.
The report was not available to the public last night, but past reports have included such simple matters as depositing money in the bank on time and not making purchases without a purchase order.
Reid also said the city has no information technology system in place to monitor transactions, saying he was particularly upset with the purchasing division. The practice of purchasing without a purchase order could be stopped, he said, by simply not paying the vendor.
Late in the discussion, Storch was still asking the mayor whether she was willing to pay market rate for a CFO, but Robinson-Briggs reminded him the city had just laid off employees, calling the matter “a very sensitive area.”
Councilwoman Linda Carter then pressed for “hiring the best” and taking the money from somewhere else.
According to a “salary band” report obtained by Plaintalker, the CFO’s minimum salary for 2010 would be $82,067 and the maximum would be $113,418, on a par with the city clerk, chief engineer and confidential aide for community development. Department heads for AFH&SS and Public Works & Urban Development had salary bands from $85,048 to $117,342, while the third, Public Affairs & Safety, had a salary band of $92,793 to $134,290.