City council names finance director
The city of Farmington has been without a finance director for three months, but that's about to change. It will just take one more month.
At a Tuesday night meeting, the Farmington City Council approved the hiring of Teresa Walters to fill the vacant finance director position. Walters wanted to wait until she knew she had a job lined up before turning in her resignation to the city of Waseca.
Walters has been Waseca's finance director for just short of three years. Prior to that, she worked for a decade for the city of Bloomington, first as an account clerk, then as an accountant.
She's got plenty of education to back her. She has bachelor's degrees in management and accounting. She is a certified public accountant and has a master's CPA degree.
And now she's bringing her skills, education and experience to Farmington. One thing Walters has learned, going from a large community such as Bloomington to a smaller one like Waseca, is that governmental accounting is pretty similar from city to city. That bodes well, since Farmington is a nice, in-between kind of community.
"I've done pretty much everything in the finance department there is, from purchasing to payroll," she said. "I'm sure Farmington's process is a little different, but I'm sure it will be similar at the same time."
City administrator Peter Herlofsky is pleased the finance director search is coming to an end. Since former finance director Robin Roland left the city of Farmington in November, Herlofsky has kept an eye on the finance department. Walters has both the education and the professional experience for the Farmington post, he said.
"We're very pleased. We see this as a long-term relationship. I think we have the right person," he said.
The city of Waseca gave Walters her first finance director role, and she is thankful for that. She also really likes the community where she works now. What she doesn't like, though, is the 45-50 minute commute every day.
She admits the commute from her home in Elko has been the biggest drawback to working in Waseca. Even the weather patterns are different between home and work. All of those little factors played in to the decision, but the biggest is that her son attends school in Lakeville. That means she usually has to take a whole day off of work if her son has a school program.
Farmington is much closer, and Walters knows a few people in the community. She's been here enough to have a certain sense of familiarity with the area. She doesn't know the community as well as she will once she works here for a while, but for now, she says, "it's a nice place."
Walters will not be able to assume her new position in Farmington until late March at the earliest because the city of Waseca asks its department directors to give a 30-day notice when they resign. That's fine with Herlofsky, because he wouldn't expect anyone to leave abruptly and not tie up loose ends.
"We're an employer, too," he said.
Still, Walters plans to use the next few weeks to acclimate herself with some of the finer aspects of Farmington's finances. She's already looked over the financial statements online. She has met the finance department staff and talked with them. She's had a few conversations about the city's financial situation with Herlofsky, too.
Over the next month, while she's tying up those loose ends in Waseca, Walters plans to be in touch with Farmington's finance department staff so she's ready to go when she gets here.
"This is a busy time of the year. I think the auditor comes in April, so that doesn't give us a whole lot of time," she said. "It's a continuous cycle. You're either working on year-end or you're working on the budget.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Walters added. "I know it's going to be challenging because the finance director left in November and this is a busy time of the year, but I know they need somebody and I think it will be a good fit."
The starting salary for Walters will be $84,642. She will receive the city's standard benefits package, which includes insurance and 24 days of paid time off.