You don’t have to turn beyond the executive summary of Econsult Solutions’ Financial Recovery Plan for the City of Chester to read…

…in recent years, the City has slipped back into severe financial distress.

…despite the new administration’s best efforts, more must be done to alleviate the City’s financial distress and it must be done quickly.

 

Under the ‘Strengthen Financial management Infrastructure’ section, it says…

 

The City has been unable to produce timely and regular financial reports, and the reports can be inconsistent. This has made it difficult to get a true understanding of the City’s fiscal situation

 

Econsult addresses this problem as follows.

 

The first recommendation is for the City to hire a full-time Chief Financial Officer

 

When rumors first surfaced that Nafis Nichols, a part-time city council person who serves as the Director of Accounts and Finance Department, would become the Chief Financial Officer, I expressed that it couldn’t happen. I understood the report to imply that a person should be appointed to work with Nichols to guide, mentor, train, advise, counsel, and work with him to learn how the city finance should be run. It was my belief that the report’s recommendation was to boost the financial acumen of the city with someone with demonstrated experience in turning situations like Chester around.

I’m glad I’m not a betting man because I would have lost my house on this one.

By appointing Nichols CFO, not only did they put the person in the administration who was in charge of finance during the period Chester slipped back into severe financial distress, they eliminated the person who the CFO was intended to work closely with who knows what’s going on with the city finances and replaced him (Nichols) with William Morgan who just got hired 8 months ago.

I guess the thought is that Nichols can do a better job of managing city finances if he works as a full time employee.

I only speak for myself when I say that the optics on this move is bad. It just doesn’t look like a good move. There’s nothing in this appointment and nothing that has been said by city officials that increases my comfort level that this appointment will jump start a financial recovery.

However, I do love that Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland is providing young people with amazing opportunities to take on leadership roles. Many of his appointments throughout his administration are new young faces that have the potential to learn and grow into great future leaders in politics and business. It’s got to be encouraging to the young people in the city to see these opportunities opening up for the younger generation.

If the city was on a more sound footing, investing in young talent is great. But in these troubling times, I think many would agree that when a position as critical as ‘Financial Savior’ is recommended and paid for with State tax dollars, we at least deserve a nationwide search for the best available experienced person qualified to meet the daunting task of CFO.

We should all wish Nafis Nichols the best and throw our support behind him. This could be a career maker or breaker for him.

Read more on Nafis Nichols’ appointment as Chester’s CFO on Delcotimes.com