Germantown spends most of 2018 with­out fi­nance di­rec­tor

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - Abi­gail War­ren Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE

Germantown has spent most of 2018 with­out a fi­nance di­rec­tor, but city of­fi­cials hope the po­si­tion will be filled soon.

Paul Turner re­signed Jan. 19, and the city posted the open­ing on its web­site, but the po­si­tion is no longer listed with other em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the city.

The po­si­tion will be posted again “soon,” ac­cord­ing to Pa­trick Law­ton, city ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Law­ton named Linda Rathje, a cer­ti­fied mu­nic­i­pal fi­nance of­fi­cer, the in­terim di­rec­tor on Jan. 29. Rathje is the city’s ac­count­ing man­ager. Ralph Gabb, a for­mer fi­nance di­rec­tor, is as­sist­ing on a part-time ba­sis. Law­ton is also work­ing with the depart­ment.

“In any or­ga­ni­za­tion it is crit­i­cal to get the right fit, and in our city or­ga­ni­za­tion we can be se­lec­tive,” Law­ton said in an email. “I don’t in­tend to say any­thing else about the po­si­tion other than the city is (in) amaz­ing fi­nan­cial shape with a balanced bud­get and our AAA bond in­tact.”

The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal filed a pub­lic records re­quest for Turner’s res­ig­na­tion let­ter on Oct. 22. The city said the records would not be avail­able un­til Nov. 14. Res­i­dent Pauline Lathram filed a sim­i­lar records re­quest in April and shared the records she re­ceived.

Ac­cord­ing to those records, Turner’s exit in­ter­view shows he was not pleased work­ing for the sub­ur­ban gov­ern­ment. In his exit in­ter­view, he iden­ti­fied that he was “very dis­sat­is­fied” with the op­por­tu­nity to get things done. He also said he was “un­der­mined” by other de­part­ments and cited “cliques” within City Hall.

“I was ques­tioned and un­der­mined by sev­eral de­part­ments and peo­ple through­out the year,” Turner wrote in his com­ments. “My ini­tia­tives were not taken se­ri­ously and in­stead ques­tioned and un­der­mined with no sup­port. Col­leagues from sev­eral de­part­ments did not sup­port ini­tia­tives that would have helped all of our cus­tomers. Some col­leagues have formed cliques that seem to be more im­por­tant than process im­prove­ment for cit­i­zens.”

Al­der­man For­rest Owens said the fi­nance depart­ment is do­ing well as city of­fi­cials con­tinue to search for a fi­nance di­rec­tor.

“We’re blessed that we have the good for­tune to be able to call on Ralph Gabb,” he said. “We are in good hands and not suf­fer­ing.”

But Al­der­man Dean Massey said the fi­nance depart­ment is not work­ing ef­fi­ciently.

“With­out a fi­nance di­rec­tor, cit­i­zens should be con­cerned about whether or not there is suf­fi­cient pro­fes­sional over­sight and anal­y­sis of the projects and po­si­tions be­ing rec­om­mended by the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Massey said.

The city has op­er­ated with­out a fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst, which has re­sulted in un­der­es­ti­mat­ing tax rev­enues in re­cent years and tax in­creases for cit­i­zens, Massey said. He noted the bud­get was ap­proved this summer with­out a fi­nance di­rec­tor.

Owens said he hoped the city would hire some­one in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary to be present for the bud­get pro­posal.

“I think the clear in­tent is to get some­one in there as soon as pos­si­ble,” Owens said.

Abi­gail War­ren cov­ers Germantown for The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal. Reach her at abi­gail.war­ren@com­mer­cialap­ or fol­low her on Twit­ter @ae­war­ren3.

Pa­trick Law­son

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