In a move that symbolizes a better revenue stream because of cannabis operations in Ceres, the City Council approved the hiring of a Deputy Finance Director – a position that has been vacant for four years.
City Manager Toby Wells said the Finance Department has been functioning without a Deputy Finance Director position since the Suzanne Dean was promoted to Finance Director in early 2015. In recent years the position had remained unfunded for budgetary reasons. The city is now doing better financially because of revenues from developer agreements relating to three marijuana operations.
Wells said the deputy director is needed to keep the city in compliance with finance, state and federal laws, assist in the annual budget and audit, insure compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), directly supervise the accounting staff, supervise monthly closing entries and a host of other detail oriented duties.
“Compliance with the law is the most vital duty of this position,” said Wells in his staff report to the council.
While Dean has been doubling up to do her job and that of the deputy director for the four years, Wells said “this is less than ideal.”
“The director is finding it increasingly difficult to stay abreast of everything that is necessary to maintain the fiscal integrity of the city,” said Wells.
He said a priority and primary duty of the new deputy director – once he or she comes on board – will be to implement Munis, the financial software system to replace its existing Eden system. Wells said the switchover has not been able to move forward and that recently the cashiering module of Eden failed that impaired the processing of the daily receipts. “Had this program failure not been patched by Eden, it would have been catastrophic to the city,” said Wells. “The implementation of Munis is now critical and must have a dedicated positon assigned in order to move this project forward.”
The city’s auditor has suggested several times on the need for a deputy director to be hired, especially since Dean is planning to retire and a second in command should be in place to take over in her absence. Wells said there is no other employee that is adequately skilled or trained to take over the Finance Department should Dean be absent or retire.
The fully burdened cost of the Deputy Director of Finance is estimated at $189,600. The cost is split among the General Fund, water and sewer funds.