Turnover within the City of Clinton’s Finance Department has brought a proposal from the city manager to restructure the department, adding two new positions but no new personnel — a move that would actually come with savings.
City manager Shawn Purvis floated his proposal to City Council during a recent session, saying the changes to the organizational structure within the department would include two new job descriptions but no increase in the number of personnel.
Currently, the city is without a permanent finance director following Harry Staven’s departure on May 4. Kristin Stafford has served as acting finance director in recent weeks as Purvis evaluated the situation, with an effort toward continuing to improve the city’s award-winning operations while maintaining sound budgeting practices.
The city manager said the Finance Department can accomplish those goals through the reassignment of duties that would result in the creation of two new job classifications — senior customer service representative and budget analyst.
Both new positions would be able to be filled from within existing city staff.
“With some internal changes, the city can implement both positions without increasing staffing levels,” Purvis noted. “The change would result in an initial annual savings of $17,000.”
The current department structure exists because the city had difficulty filling the vacant finance director’s position in 2010. The city subsequently filled the accounting operations manager positions for the first time and now has staff “with strong accounting competency… but lacking budgeting and performance management capacity,” Purvis noted.
The city has significantly increased its budgetary planning and practices over the past six years, implementing changes in strategic planning in a move toward performance management.That has enabled the city to maintain a strong financial condition, increase reserves and accomplish capital projects despite a major recession and slow economic recovery, he said.
Those efforts have also been rewarded by the Government Finance Officers Association for five consecutive years. Purvis said he wants to continue to build on that success.
“The move to performance management is incomplete and we want to ensure we continue improving operations and maintain sound financial and budgeting practices,” Purvis pointed out.
The budget analyst would increase the department’s ability to improve performance management, maintain effective budgeting practices, perform grant management and work on other special projects, the city manager stated. Along with the accounting operation manager position, the proposed position would create flexibility to fill either an accounting or budgetary need.
Additionally, the senior customer service representative would result from the assignment of new responsibilities to that person and the billing and collections supervisor.
“With succession planning in place, the current situation offers the opportunity to restructure the Finance Department in a manner that will provide for the city’s needs presently and in the future,” Purvis explained. “The realignment of responsibilities and new position classifications will create opportunities for city employees in an otherwise small and limited organizational structure.”
City Council must approve the creation of the new positions. Council is expected to consider that approval as part of the budget, making the move effective July 1.