Yelm’s Finance Dir. MacDonald abruptly “resigns”
- Editor’s note: The recent abrupt “resignation” of City of Yelm Finance Director and Department Head Heidi MacDonald was under circumstances that have not been made public. Why?
- The January 26, 2021 Council Agenda had a closed to the public Executive Session to review the performance of a public employee, which obviously was MacDonald.
- The city is yet again left with this crucial position vacant, just as the books for the last biennium are set to be closed.
- A Brief History of Yelm Finance Dept. Directors:
- Former Finance Director Noah Crocker, hired by Mayor Ron Harding in late summer 2015, lasted here almost 2 years, and “resigned” in July 2017, a year after Foster became mayor.
- Former Finance Director Joe Wolfe and his then Senior Accountant Heidi MacDonald were hired with much promise in September 2017.
- With Wolfe at the helm, the City of Yelm earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for the first time.
- Wolfe was commended on this blog April 2, 2019 and by the City of Yelm in a news release March 13, 2019, after achieving the designation of a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).
- Finance Director Wolfe was placed on Administrative Leave by city mgt. in a major decision in May 2019, after allegations surfaced. An independent investigation was returned as inconclusive. Yet, Wolfe was suggestively shown the door later that month prior to the investigation’s conclusion, and subsequently “resigned.”
- That action not being publicly explained by Yelm officials was questioned in a blog entry here on May 28, 2019. Wolfe was eventually hired by the Thurston County Auditor’s office.
- The replacement for Wolfe in July 2019, Heidi MacDonald was hired on an interim basis, then made permanent Director, becoming the third Finance Director during Mayor Foster’s then-almost 3 years in his position.
- Now, Heidi (MacDonald) Roberts “recently resigned from her position,” the third such “resignation” in 3 3/4 years.
- With the Finance Director’s post again vacant and a new-hire coming, Mayor Foster will have 4 Finance Director’s during his 5 year tenure [Noah Crocker, Joe Wolfe, Heidi MacDonald, and a new hire].
- The word “resigns” usually means the staff person was given the opportunity to be fired or resign. If the employee leaves for another job opportunity, the official response would state that, which did not occur in these 3 Finance Director resignations.
- This frequent turnover leads to many questions about the constant and disruptive changes in leadership in such a vital city function.
- A key question: is Foster’s lack of business experience a contributing factor to friction, especially on his understanding how budgets and finance departments function?
- Mayor Foster told this community of his commitment to transparency via a Nisqually Valley News questionnaire when running again for mayor in October 2017: “Do you consider Yelm government to be transparent?” He replied, “We have glass walls on city hall.” Such transparency has been missing on Finance Directors’ resignations. click here for other examples.
- Something is definitely amiss between city management and Finance!
- The public deserves a statement from city officials.
- I suggest hiring Joe Wolfe to run Yelm’s Finance Dept., as the city needs someone of Joe’s caliber, who knows this city’s finances, and who can get in the saddle now!
Yelm Finance Director Heidi MacDonald “resigns”
I wrote to City Administrator Michael Graham on Tuesday, February 17th with the following questions. He responded on February 18th:
Yelm Blogger: Earlier this month, I was making an inquiry about a Finance Dept. matter and was told that Heidi MacDonald is no longer in her post. Is the Yelm Finance Director position vacant?
Graham: Yes, Heidi recently resigned from her position.
Yelm Blogger: If so, do you intend to hire from within and if not, when will the posting be publicly posted?
Graham: We’ve hired an accounting firm to help us close out the books for the last biennium. We are working to bring on an interim director from outside the city and are updating the job description for posting in the near future. Please stay tuned.
Yelm Blogger: If Heidi is gone, did she leave for another opportunity elsewhere, or was she severed by the city of Yelm?
Graham: No response.
Bottom line: In closing, I wish Heidi MacDonald well. She was in an exceptionally difficult and untenable situation after the departure of Joe Wolfe.