Eau Claire County officials are moving closer to hiring a new finance director and could appoint a person to that position as soon as Feb. 20, county Administrator Kathryn Schauf said.
Today the county Finance and Budget Committee is scheduled to interview Amanda Price, one of three people previously chosen as finalists.
Price, accounting manager for the city of Janesville, is considered the front-runner for the job, Schauf said.
“This is the candidate we are putting forward,” Schauf said. “This candidate really rose to the top when we had ouron-site interview. ... They demonstrated the ability not only in terms of understanding government finance but also the various processes and functions of operating a finance department.”
Price has worked in local government for the past 20 years. Before her Janesville job, she was Walworth County controller and a senior accountant in Janesville city government.
Price’s choice as new finance director is not a certainty. In addition to the interview with committee members, she is scheduled to meet with county staff today.
Those interactions are important, Schauf said, to gauge additional staff member feedback about the candidate.
Forty-five people applied for the finance director position, and that number was pared to three finalists. The finalists previously were interviewed in Eau Claire.
Finance and Budget Committee member Nick Smiar said the search process was thorough and resulted in quality candidates.
“We had a good search process,” Smiar said.
Schauf will recommend a new finance director to the County Board, which could name that person as soon as Feb. 20. The new finance head will replace Amy Wong, who was hired for the job in April before leaving in November.
Committee members also are scheduled to discuss financial policy revisions intended to allow for better fiscal planning. Today the committee will consider how to handle carry-over money from one year to the next to better track the funds.
Fiscal policy revisions have been happening for the past couple of years in the wake of the theft of what authorities believe was about $1.4 million from taxpayers over a dozen years by former county Treasurer Larry Lokken and his office manager, Kay Onarheim. Their thefts were discovered in 2015, and they were subsequently sentenced to prison.
County officials have worked since then to revise policies, including measures to increase oversight of county financial operations and operate more efficiently.
“That incident really showed there were a couple of things that needed to be prioritized,” Schauf said of the Lokken/Onarheim thefts. “From there, we have been looking at all of our processes and making changes where needed.”
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