Published on: Thursday, January 31, 2019 City Manager & Staff Blog

City Manager Staff Spotlight!

Welcome to the first City Manager Staff Spotlight. This will be an occasional quick look at the day-to-day work of City of Takoma Park staff. I hope you find it interesting!

The City of Takoma Park has huge projects and initiatives on the schedule for 2019. Mayor Stewart’s year-end blog discussed many of these major efforts that are related to the City Council’s Priorities. Right now, the Council is in the middle of its Priority Setting efforts for the upcoming year. Information on major projects can be found on the City’s website on the Initiatives link. We try to keep these project pages up-to-date and we list the contact information for each project manager if you have additional questions.

While some City staff work on these large projects, most staff focus on ongoing services such as trash collection, recreation, public safety, finance, human resources, etc. So, what do we do?

This Staff Spotlight is on the Finance Office. The office consists of five full-time positions and one part-time position. Languages spoken by the staff include English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Amharic, Tigrigna, Spanish, French and Thai.

The office is led by Susan Cheung, Finance Director. She manages the staff and oversees all of the City’s financial responsibilities. She provides advice to departments on adhering to best financial practices and adapting to new financial procedures, she oversees City investments, responds to Council inquiries, prepares the management discussion and analysis for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and works with our IT unit on the financial software systems used by the City. She also oversees the City’s banking and credit card accounts. Unlike many governments, we do not have a separate budget office, so she leads the effort on the financial side of our annual Budget preparation.

Kiros Alemseged, Accounting Supervisor processes the City payroll, which is time-intensive, and supervises the 2.5 staff that handle accounts receivable and accounts payable and that provide customer service at the Finance Office window on the third floor of the Community Center.

Alisa Trammell, Budget Specialist works on budget spreadsheets and is the primary compiler of the proposed and final budget documents each year. She also provides significant backup support to other staff in the office.

The Finance Office has a predictable year of busy times:

  • January – Preparation of 2nd Quarter Financial Report and the issuance of W2s and 1099 tax forms; heavy work begins on next fiscal year proposed budget
  • February – Work on proposed budget and 3rd Budget Amendment; Constant Yield number received around February 14th
  • March – Final work on proposed budget, including document preparation; preparation of budget
    amendment before proposed budget document finalized
  • April – City Manager presents Proposed Budget to Council; Finance Director assists with material for presentations, Budget Open House, and Council Budget Work Sessions, does research and answers questions as needed; preparation of 3rd Quarter Financial Report
  • May – Budget reconciliation done by City Council; Finance Director prepares budget ordinances and transmits final tax rate to Montgomery County for the combined tax billing; staff oversees the issuance of Tax Rebate checks to Takoma Park residents who qualify for them
  • June – Final budget document is prepared; Office prepares for the close of the Fiscal Year; the 4th Budget Amendment is prepared; personnel evaluations underway
  • July – Beginning of new fiscal year; personnel pay adjustments; preparation of 4th Quarter Financial Report; preparation of 1st budget amendment (mainly includes carry-overs from gap between adoption of final budget and the end of the fiscal year)
  • August – Prior fiscal year wrap-up; preparation for the Interim Financial Audit
  • September – City Final Audit underway
  • October – Preparation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and Uniform Financial Report (UFR), both due October 31 to State of Maryland; preparation of 1st Quarter
    Financial Report
  • November – Presentation by the City’s Auditor and the actuary for the Police Pension Fund to the City Council
  • December – Calendar year close-out of personnel-related matters; annual payments to retirement accounts

The Office also works on special projects, such as Socially-Responsible Investing and finance software upgrades.

I am always impressed by how much is done by the Finance Office with so few staff. Compare our 5.5 positions to other area municipalities:

  • College Park has 8
  • Hyattsville has 5 plus 3 part-time positions
  • Greenbelt has 8, 3 of whom are human resources employees, and
  • Rockville has 12.5.

I hope you have enjoyed this City Manager Staff Spotlight on the Finance Office. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about our City of Takoma Park staff and their work. I want to hear from you!