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Not Just Playing With Numbers: Finance Team Keeps Wellington In The Black By Callie Sharkey

Wellington’s Office of Financial Management and Budget is setting the standard for practice and policy across the nation. More than just the purse strings for the village, OFMB is directly connected to every department — and every resident. “We monitor all revenues and expenses for the village, and we provide services that the customers need, want and are willing to pay for,” said Controller Ana Acevedo, who has been with Wellington for five years. “In the finance department, we work very closely with all departments in the village, and I just enjoy seeing how our tax dollars are put to work.” After 14 years on the job, Budget Director Christine Wadleigh knows the ins and outs of making things work for everyone. “We give the financial support and guidance to all the other departments. We make the connection between what the residents see and the requirements that any government has to meet according to statutes and law,” Wadleigh explained. “We do the financial reporting, and then prepare and present a balanced budget. We make the translation

between the fun stuff that everybody sees and the finances that make it happen.” As a department centered around planning, OFMB is all about being prepared for the future. “During the Great Recession, many local governments experienced debilitating hardships,” Acevedo said. “Wellington was able to continue to meet the needs of the residents during this difficult time by evaluating economic conditions and planning well for unforeseen events. I think that’s what finance is all about — planning ahead. We assisted with cost-cutting measures that kept the village running leanly while maintaining our excellent financial position.” OFMB is not the largest department in Wellington’s government, but it touches every aspect. Between the purchasing, budget and accounting sections, approximately 20 people are

tasked with crunching the numbers. “We developed a priority-based budget model that every department completes, and it allows them to rank their budget requests,” Wadleigh said. “They do an awesome job of prioritizing, and I call them budgeteers.” Another key step to this ranking system involves identifying all the core activities in Wellington and making sure those are funded. “We implemented an annual budget survey, probably 10 years ago now, that really provides insight on the items that are important to the residents. That helps us to prepare our budget knowing that we are meeting the needs of our residents,” Wadleigh said. “We even identify the higher level, quality of life community add-on activities and make sure those are funded.” Getting the community to participate in surveys is no easy task. Other govern-

(L-R) Ana Acevedo and Marisol Pearson; Jim Goodwin, Jose Reyes and Danielle Zembrzuski; and Emma Ramirez, Rubi Cabret and Ian Williams.

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