(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 29, 2013)
With the recent retirement of long-time Finance Director Jaynemarie Hubanks, Ferndale City Council has voted to outsource the City’s accounting to Plante Moran.
“For almost 25 years she [Hubanks] wore a lot of hats,” said City Manager April Lynch at the Monday night city council meeting. “As we try to figure out how to replace that knowledge, as well as finance in government now has changed dramatically with GASB, Government Accounting Standard Board, that I’m finding evn our pers are having a hard time finding experienced finance directors who have that background and are able to do that.”
Lynch noted that many communities are now hiring accounting firms that specialize in municipal finance. She stated that Plante Moran is doing financial services for 16 cities, including Hazel Park, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac, Allen Park and Ecorse. The firm has been providing city financial management services for 15 years.
The cost of hiring a Finance Director would start at approximately $130,000-$135,000. Plante Moran will be taking on the contract at a cost of $120,000 per year, with the rate guaranteed until June of 2016. The contract also gives Ferndale an out should they decide not to use their services, requiring only 30-day notice to terminate.
Lynch explained other benefits as well, including that the learning curve is low, that they have experience working with both financially healthy communities as well as distressed ones, and that they have the expertise of an entire organization behind them rather than just relying on one person to know everything. Lynch researched other options as well, including other firms and the possibility of going with a temp service, but ultimately thought Plante Moran was the best option.
Mayor Dave Coulter supported the move, stating that while he was serving as County Commissioner, Oakland County also used Plante Moran for some financial services. He called them “the gold standard around here in terms of professionalism and services” they offer.
City of Ferndale finances are audited through another independent third party, currently Abraham & Gaffney. To learn more about municipal finances in Ferndale, visit the city’s website at http://www.ferndalemi.gov.