President’s Speech

Mary Ann Henderson

Mary Ann Henderson

President

Good Afternoon.
I am Mary Ann Henderson, Treasurer for the Village of Hamilton, which is in Madison County.

I would like to welcome Tom Plowinske and the rest of the State Comptroller’s Staff. Also, Peter Baynes and the NYCOM staff. As well as a few officials from the Village of Hamilton, mayor RuthAnn Loveless, Village Trustee Jen Servedio, Village Clerk Kim Taranto and my husband, Jim Henderson, who I told he had to come, because this wasn’t ever going to happen again and the fact that he has always had my back, by standing right by besides me. So, I couldn’t think of accepting this honor without each of their support.

As many presidents before me have stated “I am not a public speaker” and I personally, am in no way comfortable here at this podium but I am very proud to be part of this wonderful organization and very grateful for this opportunity to represent our society.

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As incoming president, I want to personally thank Jennifer for her friendship and acknowledge her service as president this past year. Her leadership, wisdom and municipal experience has benefited the society and this Board greatly. We know we can continue to lean on her for guidance and insight in the future. I would also like to thank Bonnie Paige for her many year of service to this society. She has been with the Municipal Finance Officers organization for over 30 years. Bonnie has served on the Board, was a past president, an advisor and has administered the Credentialed Municipal Finance Officer program since its inception. Bonnie has recently retired and this Board recognized Bonnie’s tireless efforts and expressed our undying gratitude to her at our spring meeting. I would like to ask you to take this moment and help us wish her well in the next chapter of life. Bonnie, you will truly be missed.

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At one of my earliest attendances to Fall School, being extremely new to NYCOM and municipal financing, I attended a session titled “the presentation.” So I’m thinking ok budgets, financial reports, statistics… I can use this! You could tell I was new because I sat smack dab in the middle of the room on the aisle seat. This was before tables were provided at the sessions, which may tell you how long ago that was. There was no way to escape, graciously anyway! I soon found out the session was not about finances as I had thought, it was a personal presentation. By the time the session was over I was encouraged to step out of my comfort zone, to volunteer, to be vulnerable and accessible to others. Since I was somewhat of an introvert at the time, feeling overwhelmed by the conference and all it had to offer, this was extremely uncomfortable. That session helped me realize that stepping out of my comfort zone wasn’t going to kill me and that volunteering was a way to make a connection with other in my same situation. So that one session so long ago set me up to find this supportive extended family, which is all of you, the NYCOM staff and even the Comptroller’s staff, which I may disown if I get audited after this. We are all so much alike but still very different. We are all doing a lot more, with a lot less. It seems to be the motto these days.

We are striving to serve our communities and municipalities to the best of our ability and with the knowledge we have. Some of us here in this room have golf courses, some have trolleys systems and some have beaches to tend with. Others have little to no economic development, lack of job retention and declining population. While New York City and the surrounding areas are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012. Other municipalities, like the Village of Hamilton, operate utilities such as electric, water, sewer, and natural gas and then to top it all off, a municipal airport. We do all that, being 66% tax exempt. With all of our diversities, we still need to rely on each other for support. No other individual can know what you are and have dealt with when it comes to municipal financing, other than the people who are in this profession. Look around, this is the person sitting next to you or across from you. United by our similarities, we need to assist each other and reach out for help when needed. Why invent the wheel if your neighbor already has. Do you need a policy, do you need a mentor to stop by or just need some advice? This is what this organization is about. Tell us what your needs and wants are, give us your direction for the future. This is your organization and I hope you step out of your comfort zone and step up. Whether it be sitting on this board, volunteering at the finance officers’ booth, helping at hospitality or offering and assisting with new ideas, to further this organization into the digital age and beyond.

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Maybe you know how to create a blog or how to send mass emails without having half the email addresses bounce back or even create a quarterly news email that can be sent to the membership, about the advantages of visiting a particular municipality or welcoming a new official to their position. I hope you will allow yourself the opportunity to grow personally and professionally; to be a part of this supportive extended family, I call municipal finance officers.

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I am grateful for the opportunity to be president and hope you will reach out to any one of the Board members or myself during the conference with your upcoming ideas or to volunteer your services. You may also contact anyone of us by phone or email, which is on our newly designed website. I hope you check it out and I look forward to hearing from you.
With my sincere gratitude,
I thank you.