Committee evaluates applicants for city finance post

Monday, January 10, 2011 | 4:22 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A search committee evaluated applications for the position of city finance director for the first time Monday morning.

Seventeen candidates submitted applications by the Jan. 3 deadline, but human resources Director Margrace Bucker said applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Buckler declined to say whether any of the 17 applicants are city employees.

City Manager Bill Watkins, who named the committee, said the purpose of Monday's meeting was "to help screen and question the various candidates we get for finance director."

Although Watkins makes the final decision, he said the committee's recommendations will be given "strong consideration."

Watkins said he hoped to select a candidate by the end of February.

The director manages the city Finance Department and acts as financial policy adviser to the city manager. Primary duties include financial planning for the city, overseeing city accounting practices and preparing the city budget. The director oversees the accounting, risk management, utility accounts and billing, budget, purchasing, treasury management and business licensing divisions of city government, Buckler said.

Former finance Director Lori Fleming resigned Dec. 3 after accepting a position as an adviser to the Honduran Finance Ministry. The city's internal auditor John Blattel was serving as the interim director of finance.

Committee members said the new director of finance must have both extensive technical knowledge as well as managerial skills.

"Attention to detail and accuracy are paramount," committee member Laura Radcliff of Stifel, Nicolaus & Company Inc. said.

Each member of the screening committee has a background in finance, and most will work with the newly appointed director of finance, Buckler said.

Buckler said the new director's salary will depend on the person's skills and experience.

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