The City of Crookston continues to face challenges regarding its Finance Department and retaining a Finance Director.

After the unexpected resignation of recent Finance Director Audrey Passa, the Crookston City Council approved accepting the temporary services of CliftonLarsonAllen, LLC, before finalizing candidates for the Director position on April 16. “Michelle, from CliftonLarson and another individual who will also be assisting her,” said City Administrator Corky Reynolds, “Will be undertaking (on a temporary basis) some of the Finance Director’s duties. Assisting department heads with questions regarding the budget, where they are at, what expenditures they have made, amounts they have left, also looking at our various reporting requirements, reports that need to be made to the state, and the federal government.”

The CliftonLarsonAllen representatives will also recommend how the Finance Department should be staffed in the future and determine if additional help is necessary from technicians, a senior accountant, or additional help in the accounting profession. “At this time, under these circumstances,” said Reynolds, “It will allow CliftonLarson to make recommendations for us about what we can do better and how that should be accomplished. So I think that this is a good benefit for the city at this point in time.”

Reynolds explained that there have been difficulties and challenges the Finance Department has faced for many years. He believes that the department has operated with old-school tactics regarding methods and budgeting, and times have changed. “I think some of the difficulties here is that the department has done the same thing year after year,” said Reynolds, “And methods for allocating and budgeting have changed. How we do things, what things cost, being burdened in the past with lower than necessary levies have put the city in its position.”

In the last two years, the city has experienced significant levy increases of 18%, which was an attempt to bring the city up to par with financing different department line items, perhaps in prior years, would’ve been pushed to a later date. “For the finance department here,” said Reynolds, “That’s stressful; that may be one of the situations that have led to some of the finance people leaving. It’s just a bigger job now than it was 15-20 years ago. There are more requirements placed on us by the state and federal governments. That may be part of the reason.”

The city sent out the advertisement for the opening position of the city’s Finance Director on March 17 and will look to finalize the candidates and open interviews by April 16.