(St. Louis – November 20, 2023) ST. LOUIS— My response to your articles concerning my office begins with the most important job of the Comptroller, which is to guard the city’s credit rating, and to protect the city’s tax dollars. The City has an A+ credit rating with Standard and Poor’s with two credit rating upgrades this year in May and September 2023, giving St. Louis city an A rating with all three credit rating agencies. This year’s fiscal year-end operating balance is $71.4 million dollars. I have also just learned that my office has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).
Despite the good stewardship, and strong fiscal management of my office, the paper gave exhaustive coverage to disgruntled former employees, anonymous employees, and political naysayers, and somehow you missed the excellent job my office has done protecting the financial reputation and security of the city’s fiscal affairs.
Your article mischaracterized my statements and my work schedule. I’m known to work hands-on. I’m known to work every day, including some weekends. I am known for my commitment and dedication to my job. I’m available every day remotely and in office. I will continue to work hands-on to improve payments in the new system as I did before when I implemented quick-pay at the airport to insure minority contractors were paid timely.
Yes, my office is subject to the same tight labor market as others including the SLMPD. Frankly, city government wages are not as competitive as the private sector, especially for trained financial specialists. The salary of the Comptroller is the same as it was in 2009, and while I am happy to continue to serve the people of St. Louis at that level, the salaries of other city employees have lagged behind inflation making hiring more difficult. That’s why I came out so strong for pay raise incentives for our police officers to try to help attract the manpower we need to reduce crime and violence in our city.
I am grateful to have promoted many career employees in my office over the years. I believe in lifting people up. Now many are retiring. In my office, I recently addressed this issue by bringing on three new employees through a temp agency and in the past several months we have hired over 30 new employees. I asked the paper’s reporter to wait for the interview he requested because I wanted my new PIO (Public Information Officer), who will start soon, to participate. I am also going to continue reaching out to our local colleges and universities to bring on paid interns to mentor and hopefully make offers of full-time employment upon graduation.
The transition to the new accounting system was difficult, and it will take time to improve. Our transition was further complicated by it coming on-line during the pandemic. In-person training was not offered by the vendor initially, but only training videos and ZOOM. To the issue of my complaints about the system, I commissioned a report last fall to review the system and my concerns were validated. Hence, I mentioned the report during the same aldermanic budget hearing in your article. I believed the system was not user-friendly and I had asked for real-time parallel testing, that we never got, before going live, especially for payroll. I commend all city employees who have worked so hard to make a bad situation better.
Your article tries to mischaracterize my statements as somehow false or hypocrisy which they are not. The statement I made that the selection of the new system was done during the former administration is true, my vote to go along with the recommendation is true, and my concerns afterward are also true.
When your article mischaracterized my work schedule I thought, but I’m known to work every day, including some weekends and I know my time has been more productive. I’m known for being hands-on to get things done. I’m available every day remotely or in-office.
I am dedicated and committed to my job. I am not so thin skinned to get upset by comments from anonymous sources, as I welcome constructive criticism if it results in better outcomes. I will continue to work every day to be the watchdog over our city’s tax dollars.
Comptroller Darlene Green is the chief fiscal officer of the City of St. Louis and is charged with safeguarding the city's credit rating and with protecting taxpayer dollars. Visit www.stlouismo.gov/comptroller to learn more about the Office of the Comptroller.
Office of the Comptroller
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