County searching for new chief financial officer

Cascade County has posted the job description for the new chief financial officer position.

The position will replace the former budget and grant manager position, which became vacant by a recent retirement and will also oversee the county accounting office, which was recently removed from the clerk and recorders office.

The salary is posted as $90,000 to $115,000 depending on experience, which exceeds that of all county election officials, except the county attorney.

The chief financial officer will report directly to the county commission.

The job requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance management, or a degree in public administration and three years of experience in government accounting to include current government accounting standards and regulations, according to the job posting.

Grant management or similar program management is preferred and someone with an associate’s degree in accounting and six years of progressive experiences in government accounting would be considered, according to the post.

The position will ensure “the accountability and effectiveness of Cascade County government by providing efficient innovative services, public policy analysis, financial expertise and management and oversight of the accounting, budgetary, purchasing and financial operations and activities of Cascade County in support of all Cascade County offices and departments,” according to the job description.

The primary duties will include managing and directing the finance department, “which is responsible for all accounting, budgeting, purchasing and financial support for all county operations, overall county budget development, preparation, analysis and oversight, financial policy analysis and implementation, direction and oversight of financial programs/service delivery, resources management and maintaining internal accounting, budgetary and financial systems and controls,” according to the job description.

In January, commissioners voted unanimously to move accounting functions from the clerk and recorder’s office to the newly formed finance department.

Years ago, commissioners combined accounting operations and accountants into the clerk and recorder/auditors office.

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Both clerk and recorder and the auditor are elected positions, which were combined in the county, under state law.

Accounting operations are not a designated statutory office, according to commissioners.

County accountants and auditors share some job function, but have “separate and distinct roles and responsibilities,” according to commissioners.

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“The current auditing and accounting operations have Cascade County auditors and accountants collectively managed by and reporting to the clerk and recorder/auditor which has the potential to compromise and create deficiencies in internal controls,” commissioners wrote in their agenda report.

County auditors, under Rina Moore, former clerk and recorder, uncovered financial mismanagement during Alluvion’s split from the county; embezzlement at Montana Expo Park that resulted in termination of the director and a lawsuit; and improper spending in the county’s aging services department years ago, as well as financial mismanagement at the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office that led to criminal charges in different cases.

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Since the county’s budget officer was retiring, commissioners have decided to create a chief financial officer for the county and a finance department that will report directly to the commission.

The accounting staff will be moved into that department, according to commissioners.

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Commissioner Joe Briggs said he talked to accounting staff about the change on Jan. 9.

Commissioner Rae Grulkowski, who was elected in November, said she supported the change.

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Commissioner Jim Larson said they’ve been talking about the split for years and “now seems to be the right time.”

One member of the public spoke during the meeting, in favor of the split.

Briggs told The Electric that the change impacts four accounting techs stationed at departments around the county and two accounts and the accounting manager in the downtown county offices.

The accounting techs and accountants report to the accounting manager.

Once the new chief financial officer is hired the accounting manager will report to that person, who will report to the commission rather than the elected clerk and recorder.