After a summer of upheaval, the financial direction of the city of Tuscaloosa appears to be righted.
City officials have announced the return of three previous workers in the Department of Accounting and Finance, restoring years of experience to previously unfilled positions.
Monday will be the official restart date for Becky Scheeff, the city’s former director of budgets and strategic planning who is returning to the city in a new role as the deputy chief financial officer.
“We’re very, very excited to have her back,” said recently-appointed city Chief Financial Officer Carly Standridge. “There’s nobody better for the position than she is.”
Monday also will mark the return of Holly Esler, who is returning from the University of Alabama to work for the city as a senior accountant.
“We are very excited to welcome her back, as well,” Standridge said.
And on Oct. 25, London Jenkins will return from the Tuscaloosa County Commission to assume a new role as associate director of accounting and financial reporting.
Standridge said the city will benefit from Jenkins’ experience with the procurement process for grants and other funds.
“We are excited to have these extremely talented employees return to the team,” said Standridge said. “Accounting and Finance has been actively working to provide the best possible work environment for our employees, and the return of these three key team members speaks volumes to our new direction.”
The three returning workers join Standridge, who went from city clerk to acting chief financial officer this summer following the sudden departure of former city CFO Susan Snowden, who had headed the department since December 2018.
Her unexpected absence left the city without a permanent CFO in the final weeks of preparing the fiscal 2022 budget, so the city turned to current staff and brought back former CFO Mike Wright, who retired in October 2018 after 35 years of overseeing the city’s finances.
Officially, he returned as intern – some said he was the most experienced intern in the city’s history – to help navigate the budgetary process, which for the first time since at least the 1980s combined both the city’s $228.9 million spending plan for yearly operations as well as a multimillion-dollar capital investment plan that, in some instances, extended out for another 10 fiscal years.
This year’s budgetary process also relied on Standridge, a certified public accountant who began working for the city as the accounting manager for disaster recovery following the April 27, 2011, tornado. Standridge took over as acting CFO from Scheef, who was leaving City Hall to take over as director of corporate accounting for Alabama One Credit Union.
Standridge was named city CFO and head of the Accounting and Finance Department last month, officially replacing Snowden, who joined Mayor Walt Maddox in announcing a “mutually agreeable separation” about a week after Snowden was placed on administrative leave in June.
So far, no details on what led Maddox to place his former chief financial officer on leave have been made public. And when asked again this week, the mayor only reiterated his appreciation for Snowden’s efforts in helping advance City Hall.
“During the transition, our focus has been on on creating an environment that delivers the highest level of accountability, transparency and services while enhancing the morale of our amazing team members,” Maddox said. “I join Carly and the entire (accounting and finance) team regarding their excitement that Becky, London and Holly are returning.”
Reach Jason Morton at [email protected].