Current City of Grand Forks Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Cecile Arnott has announced her resignation with her last day being this Friday.
Arnott will be headed to the City of Rossland to assume the CFO and CAO positions and she said that she leaves Grand Forks happy with what has been accomplished in her time – she started in 2007.
“It’s been really fun. It’s been challenging; I believe we’ve accomplished a lot, we’ve got a long way to go but I think we’re poised for success here,” Arnott explained.
One of the more ambitious projects the city has embarked on recently is its asset management plan, where it decided it would borrow money to replace aging pieces of infrastructure – water supply, roads, sewer and storm drains – and Arnott was amongst those working on that.
“It’s been a lot of work getting the message out but I really believe the community stands behind it and they let us know that by the overwhelming success on our referendum questions for the borrowing bylaw,” said Arnott, adding that she believes that the city is going in the right direction and doing the right thing.
The soon-to-be CFO and CAO of Rossland was hard pressed to recall a single memorable moment in her years in Grand Forks but is happy with how the city has informed citizens on plans during her time here.
“I think for me, what makes me feel good is that we’ve been able to have all these open public meetings to be able to bring the council policy forward and to make that difference. It’s been great,” Arnott said.
Dealing with rate increases is an inevitable part of being a chief financial officer and while Arnott said it is necessary, it’s difficult as well.
“You empathize with people because when you’re raising rates, you know how it impacts people but you also have to believe that you’re doing the right thing and you would not recommend a rate increase unless you totally believe it’s the right thing professionally and personally,” explained Arnott, pointing to the elimination of the dividend for the electrical rebate as one of the more difficult choices – the last year for that was 2009.
“That was probably one of the hardest decisions that council made and definitely was very challenging for us to get the message out as to why this needed to happen. Maybe there would have been other ways but you would’ve increased taxes by a considerable amount,” she reminisced.
As to why she’s moving on to Rossland, Arnott said it’s because she likes a challenge.
“I have done a stint as a CAO and I find that I like the idea of the challenge of the CAO position while maintaining the CFO title,” she said.
Roxanne Shepherd will assume financial administration duties for the City of Grand Forks effective this Monday, Sept. 17.