St. Louis Comptroller Defends Office’s Financial Reputation and Dedication to City’s Fiscal Affairs
St. Louis – November 20, 2023
After reading recent articles about my office, I feel it is important to address the most crucial aspect of my job as Comptroller: safeguarding the city’s credit rating and protecting its tax dollars. I am proud to report that St. Louis has received an A+ credit rating from Standard and Poor’s, with two credit rating upgrades this year alone. This has resulted in an A rating from all three credit rating agencies. Additionally, our fiscal year-end operating balance is an impressive $71.4 million dollars. And to top it off, my office has just been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).
Despite these accomplishments, I am disappointed that the recent coverage of my office has focused on disgruntled former employees, anonymous sources, and political naysayers. It seems that the excellent work my office has done to protect the city’s financial reputation and security has been overlooked.
I want to clarify some mischaracterizations made in the articles, particularly regarding my statements and work schedule. I am known for being hands-on and dedicated to my job, often working on weekends and being available remotely and in the office every day. I have a track record of implementing successful initiatives, such as quick-pay at the airport to ensure timely payments to minority contractors.
It is true that my office, like many others, is facing a tight labor market. City government wages are not as competitive as the private sector, especially for trained financial specialists. In fact, the salary for the Comptroller has remained the same since 2009. While I am happy to continue serving the people of St. Louis at this level, it has become increasingly difficult to attract and retain qualified employees due to the lagging salaries of other city employees. That is why I have been a strong advocate for pay raise incentives for our police officers, in hopes of reducing crime and violence in our city.
I am proud to have promoted many career employees within my office, and I believe in lifting people up. However, as many of them are now retiring, I have taken steps to address this issue by bringing on three new employees through a temp agency and hiring over 30 new employees in the past several months. I have also been actively reaching out to local colleges and universities to bring on paid interns, with the hope of offering them full-time employment upon graduation.
The transition to our new accounting system has been challenging, and it will take time to improve. This was made even more difficult by the pandemic, as in-person training was not initially offered by the vendor. However, we are committed to making this transition a success and will continue to work diligently towards that goal.
In conclusion, I am dedicated to my job as Comptroller and to the city of St. Louis. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and will continue to work tirelessly to protect the city’s financial reputation and ensure the proper management of its tax dollars. Thank you.