Williamport’s finance department to be focus of current administration
Finance in the city of Williamsport is best not managed by one or two persons.
As part of a series of questions by Councilwoman Liz Miele, chair of the finance committee, new finance consultant Tracey Rash, of Government Finance Solutions, Harrisburg, acknowledged as much.
Part of a strategy forwarded to Council by Mayor Derek Slaughter, is to cure a decade of “mismanagement” in the finance department.
“We will move along and figure out how we put the finance department together, what that looks like and what we (the city) can afford,” Miele said.
Miele urged the administration to look at hiring individuals such as a director of finance because “the last thing we want to have is somebody (Rash) clean up the mess and nobody to fill her place.”
Miele noted as Rash seeks to reconcile finances whatever she ultimately does will likely not reveal a net loss or net gain. Rash was unable at this time to confirm that for Miele.
“You’re great,” Council President Adam Yoder said, directing his affirmation at Rash. “We can’t afford you.”
Indeed, at $13,383 in her first month, that would be about $160,000 a year.
Council set up a contract amendment for Rash as being for 120 days from the time of the meeting or a $85,000 cap, said Councilman Eric Beiter, who introduced the motion but with 90 days as he did not want too much exposure but was also pleased with Rash’s accomplishments.
Yoder also urged the mayor to come up with a timeline for a full-time staff and plan for funding to continue to get out of triage.
Slaughter said he and human resources director Molly Steel Shrimp have explored other third class cities and the rate for a finance director is $102,000. He agreed that an individual with Rash’s competency, skill set and efficiency will be a challenge to find.
He asked for Council to be mindful of the cost moving forward particularly in this labor market. He suggested allowing her to get the accounts reconciled “so we know accurately what money we have.”
Once that happens, and continual deep diving into finances happens, the administration can look into what the department may need in terms of full and part time employees and, perhaps, internships.