Wanted in Tracy: Finance director

Administrator says City would benefit having someone with accounting acumen on staff

By Per Peterson

The City of Tracy is in the process of adapting to new financial software to streamline all things financial at City Hall. But there’s another part of the equation that the City’s administrator thinks is important enough to consider when adopting a budget for 2021.

During an August study session, City Administrator Erik Hansen told the city council that it would be well-advised to hire a permanent finance director to join the team to help lead the city into the future. He said having both the tools and the personnel to manage the City’s money in upcoming years that will see the City spend a lot of taxpayer money is crucial.

“We will spend $12 million of the taxpayers’ money, we owe $30 million in bonds, and we don’t have anybody on staff that has an accounting background — that doesn’t make good sense to me,” Hansen said. “I think that you want to have a good level of expertise that we don’t have now. Not only will it save us money, it will make us more efficient. We’re in a situation where we have to manage our cash flow very carefully, because the city council has some aggressive things they want to do in 2021 — spending some additional money on roads, for example.

Hansen has drafted a job description that has been shared with the city council, although nothing has been formally discussed in an in-depth fashion. The finance director would hold down a deputy administrator title, and Hansen said that could give the City some kind of succession plan when the time comes he leaves his post.

Hansen said the City should expect to spend anywhere from $75,000-$80,000 to hire someone for the position; that money has been included in the preliminary budget, pending council approval. He said ideally the new hire would come in with some experience and would have a goal of becoming a city administrator in the future.

Current financial clerk Peggy Zwach, while seen as an obvious choice for the position, has declined the job offer, and told the council that she doesn’t have the required degree to accept it, even if she did want it.

“Am I willing to learn from someone? Yes,” she said. “Do I ever want to become the city administrator? No. Will I be a finance director in five years? Maybe, but not now.”

Hansen’s vision has Zwach continuing to take care of the City’s payroll and essentially everything employee-related — personnel and human resources issues, training, evaluation and risk management.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.