Pickerington will add a deputy finance director to its administrative staff next month.

Pickerington will add a deputy finance director to its administrative staff next month.

Stephanie Spencer, who has spent the last 11 years as a project accountant with the Ohio Auditor's Office Local Government Services Division, will become Pickerington's deputy city finance director on Sept. 6.

She is the city's first full-time deputy finance director since former city finance director Linda Fersch stepped down to become the human resource director at the end of 2009.

She will prepare the city's annual comprehensive financial reports (CAFR) for state review and be in charge of payroll administration and fixed asset maintenance.

She also will assist current city finance director Chris Schornack, Pickerington's last deputy finance director, in preparing monthly, quarterly and annual finance reports for Pickerington City Council and the city's administration, and will help formulate the city's annual budget.

"I look forward to learning more about the daily operations of government finance while bringing 10 years of government consulting experience to the office," Spencer said. "For the past 10 years, I have compiled financial statements in accordance with general accepted accounting principles for local school districts and cities and counties residing in southeast Ohio."

Spencer will receive an annual salary of $66,000.

Approximately $50,400 of that salary will come from the city's general operating fund. The balance will come from the water and sewer fund, which historically has provided funding to the city's finance department for services rendered.

Schornack said her hiring also should result in an annual savings of up to $20,000 to the city because in recent years, Pickerington has contracted with the state auditor's office to prepare its comprehensive finance report.

Schornack said Spencer will now compile the report in-house.

"We're hiring a person who has experience preparing GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) statements, which will assist the city and save money," Schornack said. "We actually had money in the budget for this position to be filled, but it wasn't to be filled until December.

"With the budget process coming up and the assistance I needed, I asked city council to fill this position in September."

Schornack said Spencer was the only qualified candidate to apply for the post, which was advertised on the city's Web site.

Her work with the city budget will begin almost immediately. Schornack and city manager Bill Vance intend to present a 2011 budget to council by October.

"We need a lot of resources across the board," Vance said. "We've definitely done more will less in a lot of departments.

"We can't afford to fill all the vacancies, but the deputy finance director definitely will pay for itself. You can't nickel-and-dime your finance department."

Prior to becoming the city's human resources director, Fersch spent nearly 29 years as Pickerington's finance director. She was the city's first and only finance director until she stepped aside to become human resources director last January.

Since that time, Fersch has led the human resources department and assisted Schornack.

Vance said hiring Spencer will allow Fersch to focus on human resource issues full-time, until her planned retirement at the end of this year.

"Human resources is pretty much taking 100 percent of (Fersch's) time, and that plan to have her assist the finance department pretty much went awry," Vance said.

Spencer earned a bachelor of arts degree from Muskingum University, where she majored in both accounting and finance and business administration. She also has an associate degree in accounting and finance from Zane State College.

At the state auditor's office, Spencer has provided financial consulting to cities, counties and local school districts in southeast Ohio, assisted in preparation of annual finance reports and provided financial forecasting services to school districts in financial distress, according to her resume.

She also provided the office with staff training and annual auditing.

"My role as deputy finance director will consist of assisting with budget preparation, daily collections, inventory of capital assets and the preparation of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR)," she said. "I hope that I can provide financial guidance that will assist the city in maintaining a positive cash flow."

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