City Manager Carter Napier quickly noted the lack of a chief financial officer in Casper when he took over this summer.
“For an organization that is this sophisticated and deals with this many services and deals with the volume of tax dollars that we do, to not have a CFO in my estimation is a huge vulnerability,” Napier told the Star-Tribune in July.
That ‘vulnerability’ has since been corrected.
Tom Pitlick was announced as the new chief financial officer earlier this month, and he started work Monday.
On Wednesday, Pitlick said that everything was off to a great start.
“The staff and everybody [in Casper] have been great — very friendly and very helpful,” he remarked.
Pitlick, who previously served as a finance director for the city of Gillette, said he helped the northeastern Wyoming city cut back on expenses and balance its budget after the most recent economic bust.
“Gillette was particularly hit hard with the downturn in the energy sector,” he explained. “It was quite the challenge to get the budget in line.”
Casper is also experiencing economic challenges that stem from low sales tax revenue and concerns over the certainty of state funding, which may be in jeopardy as lawmakers contend with low tax revenue. Napier and Pitlick have been tasked by City Council with helping Casper rein in spending and reduce the approximately $4 million in reserves being used in the budget.
Although balancing the budget will be his priority, Pitlick said he’s still adjusting to the new position and cannot yet outline his plans for the city. However, like Napier, he said cutting the city’s work force will be considered only as a last resort.
“I’ll certainly do my best to watch out for [city employees] and their welfare,” he said.
Napier already enacted a series of budget cuts earlier this month: City employees’ wages were frozen, employees with more than 200 hours of disability time had excess hours reduced, employees were no longer permitted to convert extra disability time to vacation time or the salary equivalent at the end of each calendar year and street sweeping services were moved to the solid waste division.
The changes are expected to save Casper about $1 million annually, but Napier indicated this is just the beginning.
“We have a lot more to do,” he has said.