Calabasas approves chief financial officer position

By Michael Picarella
Acorn Staff Writer

To protect public funds and minimize waste in Calabasas, the Calabasas City Council approved a new job description, chief financial officer (CFO). It replaces the position formerly known as finance director. The CFO will report directly to the council; the finance director had previously only reported to the city manager.

The council approved the change with a sunset clause. The position will be reevaluated in one year and could be discussed at any time during the one-year trial period and adjusted—the job description might be modified at any time.

"I feel very strongly that local government is a work in progress, and we both have to do work and make progress," said Calabasas City Councilman Barry Groveman. The CFO position might not work, he said, but the city must attempt to resolve key issues as necessary in Calabasas.

Groveman said litigation against a former contract attorney who was working for the city, Katherine Stone, would prove that the city’s financial bookkeeping was inadequate. He wouldn’t specify details because the case is still in progress.

The CFO will provide checks and balances which are vital, Groveman said. "This will improve accountability and enhance the council’s role as fiduciary of the public trust."

The CFO will have greater responsibilities vs. the previous finance director, according to city attorney Michael Colantuono. The CFO will now report to five bosses (councilmembers) instead of just one (the city manager).

The successful candidate must be flexible. City managers usually last about three to five years, Colantuono said, because they deal with turnover in elected officials. But city managers expect that type of arrangement, he said. The new CFO should also know the circumstances, Colantuono said, before accepting the position.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Harrison said the new CFO shouldn’t expect an easy job. Anyone who accepts the position must work with five tough personalities, he said.

The council has been interviewing candidates. Mayor James Bozajian said applicants’ names couldn’t be released for privacy reasons. But he added that he was impressed—so far—with the quality of the applicants.

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