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Yelm council told a Finance Director has accepted the city’s offer.

The Yelm city council was told this evening by City Administration Graham that a Finance Director has been selected and accepted the position. Interestingly, Mr. Graham and Mayor Foster referred to the “candidate” in the third-person, and did not initially announce her name. Graham said, “she has a background with the state auditor’s office,… the county auditor’s office [he did not specify which county], … as well as a seasoned, municipal Finance Director for over 10 years.” Interestingly. Mr. Graham and Mayor Foster omitted mentioning her name in this part of the meeting. Nor was her previous city’s name ever mentioned. Click here for the video, start @ 27:00.

And announcing the person’s name did not originate from the mayor nor city administrator either, rather only was publicly provided at the end when Councilor Carmody noted that the name of the Finance Director appointee had not been announced. Mayor Foster then said that Stephanie Dice-McKenzie will be starting here on May 10th. As I have noted here many times, transparency is not Mr. Foster’s strong suit. This will be the 4th Finance Director during Foster’s 5 years as mayor.

In a cursory search for Stephanie Dice-McKenzie, I located her as the Finance Director of Enumclaw, a city almost 30% larger than Yelm, based on population. What is very unusual is for a Finance Director to take a lateral position to a smaller town, unless Yelm’s pay-scale/benefits package was better, or other personal factors. However, Finance Director salaries between Enumclaw and Yelm are very similar:

  • Yelm’s former Finance Director Heidi MacDonald Roberts had an annual salary between $105,689-$126,882, according to Yelm’s 2020 final budget (note: the City of Yelm does not currently have an Adopted 2021-2022 Final Budget).
  • The City of Enumclaw currently lists their Finance Director’s salary range as $8,839-$10,870 monthly, which is $106,068-130,440 annually. Yelm’s council was told Dice-McKenzie had been Enumclaw’s Finance Director for 10+ years, so she should have been in the higher salary range there.
  • The salaries seem to be similar, although the benefits package may be slightly different.
  • This leads to question whether there something with her Enumclaw post that caused her to move?
  • A lateral job transfer to a smaller city with similar salary is odd – certainly not classified as a career promotion.
  • The apparent hesitancy to mention her name or previous city to Yelm’s council is also odd.
  • Enumclaw posted their Finance Director opening on April 27, the same day Yelm council received the news, so there was no reason for Yelm officials to be so hesitant in not mentioning her previous city.

Further, Mr. Graham announced some anomalies had been found from the independent CPA firm’s review and analysis of the city finances, such that corrections and clarifications need to be made and issues need to be reconciled. Graham added the differences were cash positive for the city, according to him. Having 3 previous Finance Directors under Foster and more under Harding have led to inconsistencies in reports, one can imagine.

Click here to review a brief history of Finance Dept. issues for the last 5 months.

Credit: City of Enumclaw Finance Dept.

Posted by Steve on April 27, 2021 at 7:43 am | Permalink

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