February 27, 2013 10:04:51 AM
The Columbus City Council will announce its new Chief Financial Officer during its regular Feb. 5 meeting after completing a final round of interviews Tuesday.
The advisory committee interviewed two finalists Tuesday morning while a third candidate withdrew, said the city's chief operations officer, David Armstrong. The committee is composed of Armstrong, outgoing CFO Mike Bernsen, CPA Mike Crowder, human resources director Pat Mitchell, mayor Robert Smith, Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box and Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem.
Bernsen resigned in December to take the job as comptroller for Columbus Light and Water but agreed to work with the city as a consultant until his replacement could be found. Bernsen had served as the city's CFO since 2008.
"We interviewed two highly qualified candidates," Armstrong said. "It was a tough decision, but we do have a recommendation."
The city has received almost 60 applications from across the nation during its search. Armstrong said that number was reduced to 15 before being narrowed to five.
"Out of the five, we had three we were really interested in," Armstrong said.
The new hire will receive a higher salary than the salary Bernsen earned as CFO. Bernsen's annual salary was $65,172.13. Although the city offered a pay raise to induce Bernsen to stay, it could not match the salary Bernsen will make in his new job. The city advertised that the CFO job will include an annual salary of $68,000 to $73,000. Armstrong said the council will also be approving the salary on Feb. 5 when it makes its recommendation.
"If the council goes with my recommendation, then I feel really good about the hire," Bernsen said. "But with city politics, you never know which way they are going to go. We had two highly qualified candidates. I feel really good about the individual the committee will recommend."
Karriem, who has praised Bernsen's work ethic as the city's CFO, said he is still considering both finalists.
"The jury is still out," Karriem said. "I feel both candidates are qualified. We are looking for someone that has a no-nonsense approach to money -- something that is going to be about transparency and keeping the mayor and council in line with the spending. We're looking for some accountability -- that was our goal four years ago. Bernsen was a stand-up guy, especially with the city's money. He's going to be hard to replace."
3. 2 dead in Oktibbeha County car crash STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. Suspect arrested in armed robbery, kidnapping case COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY