City Again Searching For Comptroller
The city is searching for a new comptroller following the resignation of Catherine Maycock, who was hired as deputy comptroller last fall and was appointed acting comptroller after the departure of John Sellstrom.
Mayor Eddie Sundquist confirmed that Maycock has left the city for a “different role” in the private sector.
“We’re in the process of actively searching for a comptroller,” he said. “We do have some support. The former comptroller Joe Bellitto has come in to assist us just to ensure that we’re finishing up year end activities and moving into the audit, but we’re in full search mode for a comptroller.”
While the city searches for another comptroller, Sundquist said his administration has made an “arrangement” with other city staff members to make sure people are still getting paid, checks are being cut and the city continues processing invoices. Sundquist added that Jennifer Williams, city clerk is currently providing additional oversight of the city’s finance department.
According to Sundquist, the city recently made an offer to a potential candidate, who declined the offer for the city comptroller position.
“We’re rounding up some for interviews and we’re going through that process again,” he said. “We have received about 18 applications, not everyone qualified, because there are qualifications for comptroller.”
Sundquist explained that to be hired as city comptroller, an individual is required to have at least four or five years of finance experience and a bachelor’s degree or related experience. During the last round of interviews, Sundquist said the city interviewed roughly five applicants. He anticipates that the city will interview another five or six applicants during the next round of individuals who “maybe were passed up” during the first round of interviews.
Asked about the timeline of when a new controller could be appointed and confirmed, Sundquist said he would like a new comptroller to be hired as soon as possible.
“The way the process works is that the mayor will appoint the comptroller and the City Council has to confirm,” he said. “Typically it would go whenever there is an opportunity for the council to vote on the confirmation, so in this case, it’s usually at the end of the month.”
Sundquist explained that while the City Council could confirm an appointment at a different time than the monthly voting session, he believes the timing will work out well to find someone in the “next couple weeks” who could potentially be “ready to go” in April.
Asked about the challenges of hiring a new comptroller, Sundquist acknowledged that the city is currently facing multiple challenges in its search for a comptroller. Unlike the private sector, Sundquist said the city is limited in its compensation package for employees.
“We also don’t offer much work from home, which is also being offered to finance folks in the private sector,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to do the city’s business from home unless you’re doing just general housekeeping items, most of our business is still paper based because of various records retention, so that’s a little difficult for us.”
Sundquist added that another challenge is finding applicants who already live in Jamestown or could be willing to quickly relocate to the city.
“There’s some complications there in terms of if folks are interested in moving in the city, are they able to are they able to find a location where they can move in, especially if they have a family or other obligations or what is the time-frame for them to move into the city.”
One final challenge facing the city during its search for a new comptroller is the timing of the appointment. If hired for the comptroller position, a confirmed appointee would not be guaranteed a “permanent” position due to this year being an election year. Sundquist said the appointment would only go to the end of the year, since comptroller appointments run “concurrent” with the term of the mayor.
“Any appointment would go at minimum just to the end of the year,” he said. “I think that causes some panic in some individuals, because we don’t run our appointed positions like a normal business. They’re not contracted positions, they’re appointed position, so a little bit of a different challenge versus the private sector.”
Despite the city being forced to find a fifth comptroller in just the last few years, Sundquist expressed hope that his administration will be able to find qualified individuals during the second round of interviews.
“We had several good individuals that we thought would be an opportunity to get them into play, but we’ve not been able to find the right person yet,” he said, “so we’re hoping in the second round, that we’re able to do that.”