Gainesville has hired a new director of financial services and a new city controller as well as a new internal audit manager.
The new hires in the financial services office will help the city address issues identified in both state and city audits. In January, a report released by Florida’s Auditor General said a lack of personnel with the needed qualifications was one of the underlying factors in the city’s continuing problems with internal controls and financial reporting.
An internal city memo in April on general city government financial services outlined the effects of ongoing vacancies and a lack of personnel with the necessary government accounting and financial expertise.
Staffing “instability” has caused problems with “timely bank reconciliations, monthly closing of financial activities, and timely and accurate complexion of external audits and reports,” according to the memo. Indeed, the city missed a June deadline for its 2021 audit despite the work of an outside consultant and assistance from Claudia Rasnik, the Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) chief financial officer.
The new director and controller should help strengthen the city’s financial systems, according to a city press release announcing the hires. Jennifer Crocker has been named the new director of financial services, and Sue Wang is the city’s new controller.
The controller position, which leads the department’s accounting division, was created as part of the reorganization of the city’s structure in January in order to have a certified public accountant (CPA) in a managerial role.
Both Crocker and Wang are CPAs. Wang also is a certified public finance officer, and Crocker is a certified management accountant. Both women have governmental accounting experience.
Crocker was most recently the senior finance manager at the San Antonio River Authority and was previously the assistant vice president for financial services and comptroller at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Wang most recently served as an assistant comptroller for Jacksonville and previously worked as a finance manager and accountant for Normal, Illinois.
“Both Jen and Sue bring a wealth of experience and talent to these positions,” interim City Manager Cynthia W. Curry said in a city press release. “They have a passion for public service, and I am delighted they’ve joined our team.”
Crocker and Wang started on June 13 and were first introduced publicly at the audit committee meeting on June 15.
Curry told the audit committee that both women had been monitoring the previous audit meetings before they were hired, and had jumped into their jobs and were “off and running.”
“I was very pleased with the deep knowledge that they already have,” Curry said.
Crocker said at the committee meeting that she was “excited to be here and really digging in, trying to learn the financial system. My approach is building trust through transparency, getting things updated.”
She praised Rasnick and her team for the work they had already done on the city’s financial systems.
“Our dedicated staff supports each other in our work so we can best serve the citizens of Gainesville,” Crocker said in the press release.
During her audit committee introduction, Wang said she had come to public sector work from Caterpillar.
“I can tell you, I will never go back,” Wang said at the meeting. “I am passionate about public service, as everybody here is. I worked my way up. I hired in as an accountant, so I am familiar with every aspect of government accounting and government finance, so I am excited to be here.”
As part of her work with Crocker and the rest of the department, Wang said they would “continue to refine our internal processes and procedures to enhance our financial reporting and ensure the integrity of our financial data.”
Maria Mapagu, a new internal audit manager for the city, was also introduced at the June 15 meeting. She will be part of the team in City Auditor Ginger Bigbie’s office, keeping an eye on the effectiveness of the organization.
Mapagu was most recently working for Raleigh, N.C., before taking the Gainesville position.
“In the course of my career, I’m very proud to say that I have performed a lot of audits – whether it’s been compliance type of audit, financial, operational, [or] employee benefit plan types of audits,” Mapagu told the audit committee. “I’m very confident that as part of this team, I am going to be able to… collaboratively work with the organization and be a good auditor for the city of Gainesville.”