The town’s new finance director is not just starting a new job. She’s starting a new life.
Susan Smith, a certified public accountant with experience in both public and private accounting, left the cold winters of Connecticut for the warm beaches of Longboat Key when she accepted an offer to be the town’s new finance director in April.
Smith and her husband always wanted a retirement home in Florida, either in Sarasota or Vero Beach.
But, when Smith’s mother passed away last year, she was ready for a new life and a new home before retirement age.
“There was really nothing keeping me anymore in my home state of Connecticut,” said Smith in her new Town Hall office. “When the Longboat Key job became available, I was very interested and it fit into my whole scheme to where I wanted to be in the present.”
Smith accepted the job offer from Town Manager Dave Bullock with a starting annual salary of $95,000, put a for sale sign in the front yard of her Wallingford, Conn. home and moved to Sarasota.
“It’s exciting and a new adventure for us,” Smith said.
What wasn’t so exciting was coming to work on Monday, May 28, and trying to get up to speed immediately on a 2013-14 fiscal year preliminary budget that was due to the Longboat Key Town Commission June 1.
“It has been nonstop learning,” Smith said. “I’m getting up to speed and reading up on the town charter.”
Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., and went to work for an auditing firm for eight years while working toward her CPA license.
Smith has served as the finance director for Thomaston, Conn. (a smaller town like Longboat Key with a $25 million budget) and Wethersfield, Conn. (a larger town with an $85 million budget and where she also oversaw a board of education budget).
Besides the busy summer-budget season, Smith is preparing to get up to speed and tackle the town’s comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). That report is a review of what happened in the last year, as opposed to a budget that reviews expenditures and revenues that are expected to occur in the coming year.
While reviewing a CAFR is an ominous task and time-consuming, the new finance director has already figured out how to make that daunting task easier to handle in her new community.
“I’m going to take it to the beach with me and read it there,” Smith said. “I’m not going to take what this community has to offer for granted.”
Family: Husband, Kenny
Hometown: Wallingford, Conn.
Hobbies: Artwork (oil paintings) and going to the beach
Interesting fact: Smith likes to make candles in her spare time.