The Murphy Administrations suggestion of creating a Financial Dept. was actually one of the recommendations suggested by the DOR in 2007 At the request of the Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch when he had the Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services (DLS) completed a financial management review of the city.
This is from page 8 of that report.
RECOMMENDATION 1: CREATE A FORMAL FINANCE DEPARTMENT
We recommend that Lowell create a consolidated finance department under the direction of the CFO through special legislation. Appointed by the city manager, the CFO should be responsible for managing the city’s finances and developing its long-term planning efforts. In order to do this effectively, the CFO should have direct appointment and management control over the financial operations (e.g., treasury/collections, assessing, budgeting, and purchasing), ensuring resources are used efficiently, activities are conducted timely, and department heads are held accountable.
We recommend that the CFO conduct financial officers’ meetings at least monthly that include the city auditor and school business manager. Through this group of officers, the CFO will be able to compile comprehensive financial information and present briefings to the manager, mayor, and council on topics such as the prior year’s performance, year-to-date activities, and issues as they come up.
This group should help develop financial analyses, explore the financial impact of future events, and offer early strategies to deal with anticipated problems. Collectively, this group also should review financial documents (e.g., revenue and expenditure reports, balance sheet, audits, tax recapitulation sheet and apportionment of indirect costs to departments) for completeness and accuracy, and agree on submission deadlines where they apply.
As a long-term consideration, we recommend that Lowell create a day-to-day reporting relationship between the manager and auditor. The auditor has significant responsibilities, which if not done, would impact the city’s operations. As such, the auditor should account for her time to the city’s chief administrative officer, like every other department head, and actively participate in the manager’s budgeting and financial planning processes. This reporting relationship will not impact the city council’s appointment power, but will work towards Lowell’s goal of improved fiscal accountability.