City hires interim finance director

Hinsvark a former Kansas City CFO, Denver debt administrator

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Debra Hinsvark

— The city has hired an interim finance director to upgrade software platforms and budgeting capabilities while easing the workload of an over-burdened department.

Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts said Tues­day that Debra Hinsvark has been hired for an initial period of six months and $70,000 in salaried pay. She brings a long background of financial experience.

Hinsvark was hired as finance director for Kansas City, Mo., in July 2005, and became the city’s chief financial officer in February 2006. She resigned from that position in September 2007 and recently has worked for Clifton Gunderson LLP, a nationwide certified public accountant and financial consulting firm. From 2000 to 2005, Hinsvark was the debt administrator for the city and county of Denver. She has been a CPA since 1992 and has a master’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University.

“I’m a consultant in the government accounting world, and I think this will be a great opportunity for both of us,” Hinsvark said, referring to herself and the city.

She lives in Lakewood and said she will acquire a residence in Steamboat but likely will commute home “on most weekends.”

“I’m anxious to get to know Steamboat Springs and fill in during a period of time when a filler is needed,” she said.

Roberts said the city hired Hinsvark primarily to upgrade the city’s budgeting and financial accounting systems, a desire expressed by Steamboat Springs City Council at a retreat this month.

“We will be doing a major upgrade to all our financial software systems. That would be the major undertaking that she will be overseeing,” Roberts said. “Right now, we don’t have the ability of doing credit card payment of utility bills, or online payment of utility bills, as well as much more detailed budgeting and financial reporting capabilities. … She has agreed to stay with us until that project is up and operating.”

The hire also is intended to “alleviate the doubling up of job duties” for Assistant Finance Director Bob Litzau and Revenue Supervisor Kim Weber, Roberts said.

There’s been significant shuffling atop the finance department in recent years.

The city has been without a finance director since Lisa Rolan resigned in December 2008. She was hired in March 2008. Before Rolan’s hiring, the position had been open since July 2007, when former City Manager Alan Lanning fired former Finance Director Don Taylor.

During the summer, the city ended a finance director search without a hire. Litzau has served as interim director through each vacancy.

Weber said the workload has been steep.

“Basically, Bob and I have kind of split up the three positions — finance director, assistant finance director and revenue supervisor — between the two of us,” she said.

Litzau could not be reached Tuesday.

“Bob has been putting in a lot of extra hours,” Weber said. “We have an excellent staff, which has been very helpful in covering all areas. We just have really come together as a group to make it work, but it has been trying at times. … It’s not a sustainable type of arrangement.”

Weber called Hinsvark’s hire “a positive solution to help out our department.”

Hinsvark said she is excited to meet a need in Steamboat.

“I don’t think I’m being hired because there are problems — I don’t believe that’s the case. I think it’s a stopgap and a smart one,” she said.

Like Rolan, Hinsvark is not without controversy from a previous position.

Before coming to Steamboat, Rolan resigned with severance pay from a job with the city of Columbia, S.C., after 18 months on that job. In March 2008, she said politics played a big role in her resignation but declined to give specifics.

Prime Buzz, a political blog of The Kansas City Star newspaper, reported in September 2007 that Hinsvark resigned from the Kansas City CFO position after a disagreement with then-City Manager Wayne Cauthen. Hinsvark confirmed to Prime Buzz that she and Cauthen disagreed about financing for the Citadel Plaza project, an urban shopping center that faced development problems.

Tuesday, Hinsvark said she thought Citadel developers were involved in “double-dipping,” receiving funds from two sources for the same use.

“As the fiduciary responsible for the taxpayer dollar, I couldn’t agree to pay taxpayer dollars twice on the same project, so I left,” she said about the Kansas City position.

Last week, The Kansas City Star reported that federal authorities have issued subpoenas in an investigation “related to the failed Citadel Plaza project.” Hinsvark declined to say whether she had been contacted in the investigation.

Hinsvark said Tuesday that the investigation is “no concern to me at all.”

“I have no concerns of my own ethics or involvement,” she said.

Roberts said during its search for an interim finance director, the city “sent out some feelers” through the Colorado Government Finance Officers Association, of which Hinsvark is a member.

“That’s how we found her and how she found us,” Roberts said.

He said the city’s interview committee responded positively to Hinsvark’s experience and caliber.

“Everyone was unanimous in their enthusiasm and positive impression of her demeanor and her capability,” Roberts said.

Hinsvark’s first day on the job is Jan. 4.

Comments

Alan Geye 5 years ago

I'm writing to wish Debra Hinsvark all the best in her new position. Good luck, she'll need it. As I read the article outlining the most significant needs of the City as being to upgrade the city’s budgeting and financial accounting systems, I really have to laugh. True, I suspect this is a need, but may I submit, the City's greater need may be to have our political elete actually listen to a financial professional rather than ignoring them and merily pursuing their personal political objectives and disregarding reasonable financial warnings. I truly hope Ms. Hinsvark maintains her professional independence and tells US what we need to know about how our city is being run financially and its financial priorities. Respectfully, A retired CPA

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homegrown 2 years, 11 months ago

With the articles in the paper and listening to city council meetings, I was just wondering what qualified Debra Hinsvark to be our deputy city manager. From my friends at the city there have appeared to be a lot of questionable acts lately. It seems from her background she is all finances and although that is a part of her new job, not sure if she is the best in this position.

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