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Council Members Acknowledge Comptroller Complications

The City Council expressed concern and frustration during Monday’s voting session as the city is forced to search for another full-time comptroller. Pictured is City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

Without a full-time comptroller, City Council members are concerned about the city’s financial operations, especially with regard to the City Council’s financial questions regarding future programs and projects.

Asked about the city’s current task of having to search for another comptroller, City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II, said it is “very frustrating.”

Dolce echoed Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s comments regarding the difficulty of attracting qualified candidates to department head positions, particularly comptroller, with rising wages in the private sector. With recent increases to private sector salaries, Dolce said the city is not able to afford offers that compare with many salary offers that private companies can make.

“They’re getting significantly more money,” he said. “We were very fortunate for 30 years to have somebody like Joe Bellitto who was very committed to this community, to the city, and didn’t go on to greener pastures to other jobs.”

Since Bellitto’s retirement from the comptroller position, the city’s finance department has had a difficult time retaining a comptroller. The city is currently searching for its fifth comptroller in just the last few years.

City Councilwoman Marie Carrubba, D-Ward IV, pointed out the “difficult time” the city’s finance department is currently experiencing as it tries to operate without a full-time comptroller. The city is also currently operating without a deputy comptroller in the absence of Catherine Maycock, who previously served as deputy comptroller and acting comptroller. While the city has received help from Bellitto, the city’s former comptroller, Carrubba explained that the absence of a full-time comptroller has significantly impacted the city’s operations.

“It’s no one’s fault, but unfortunately, we’re dealing with a situation where some of our questions regarding finances cannot be addressed as quickly as we would like, as we don’t have people in these positions to lead it,” she said.

Dolce explained that the issue of attracting qualified candidates to serve in city government positions is not limited to the comptroller position. Instead, he said that the city is going to run into a similar problem with other department heads as the city finds itself in “competition” with various private sector jobs. With numerous jobs “in demand” in the current economy, Dolce said the city is likely going to continue struggling to compete against companies in the private sector to hire new employees.

“We’re going to have to take a look at some of our job requirements and obviously some of the amounts and salaries, and that’s another thing we have to look at, because we’re under a tight budget,” he said. “We’re limited on what we can offer these people.”

Dolce also agreed with Carrubba’s statements regarding the difficulties the city faces without having a full-time comptroller. He said that without a full-time comptroller, the City Council members are not able to receive the “level of information” the council is used to receiving in a timely manner, which can impact the council’s voting decisions, as it did on Monday.

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