Town Board Approves Finance Director Position

The Town of New Paltz will soon have an employee in place dedicated to overseeing all the town’s finances, according to Town Supervisor Susan Zimet.

The new position, director of finance and operations, will begin in 2015 and is set to be a civil service position. The director must pass a test to be hired, will not have any political power and can remain director through multiple administrations, according to Zimet.

“We really want the director of finance and operations to be a consistent person managing the town’s finances throughout different administrations and someone who has time to investigate and research fiscal opportunities for the town to help reduce our cost for governmental operations,” Zimet said.

The director will earn a starting salary of $70,000 before benefits. To put this salary into perspective, the Village of New Paltz treasurer is currently earning $68,457, and the treasurer responsible for Ulster BOCES’, New Paltz School District’s and Highland School District’s finances makes $72,801, according to public records.

According to Zimet, the director will manage all of the town’s finances including day to day expenses, planning future spending and researching and acquiring money owed to the town that may have been overlooked. Zimet said that during the past three years she obtained around $250,000 in various grants and FEMA money from Hurricane Irene that was not sought by the town at the time.

The job requires a highly skilled individual with significant experience in financial management. To be qualified for the test and the position one must have a minimum of 10 years fiscal management experience and five years of government experience, according to Zimet.

The new director will report to the town supervisor, who is also the town’s Chief Fiscal Officer (CFO). Zimet said this new position will alleviate some of the workload currently being done by the town’s municipal bookkeeper, Arlene Weber.

Being that the supervisor is also the CFO, the town’s finances can be in trouble when the supervisor is focused mainly on policy and only day to day finances, according to Zimet. She said this causes fiscal opportunities for the town to simply fall through the cracks.

Zimet said she is “putting policy and personnel in place that will ensure the integrity of the town’s finances going forward no matter who is supervisor.”

This position is just one line in the $11.3 million 2015 town budget that was discussed at a town board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 5. This meeting was set to open with a public hearing, where town residents could come and voice any concerns about the budget.

Although the meeting was open to the public, no members of the public were in attendance to comment on the budget or witness the meeting.

The board moved on to discuss certain parts of the budget that needed their attention, along with other town business. These included approving a liquor license for Los Agaves restaurant, considering a $25,000 request from the New Paltz Rescue Squad to hire a full-time medic for the year and discussing the potential purchase of new leaf removal and street cleaning equipment for the highway department.