President’s Speech

President Neary

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for attending the Municipal Finance Officer’s Luncheon on this beautiful day. Thank you to Peter Barnes and NYCOM staff for putting on a wonderful Fall Training School and for always being there for this organization when we need assistance. Thank you to Dan Acquilano and the OSC Local government school of training and accountability folks for your wisdom, your partnership and your assistance whenever we call upon you. I’d also like to thank all of the Society’s board members. We have been through a lot of change and have had to make adjustments this past 4 years but I believe we are moving forward in a positive manner and I am certain, with all my heart, that we have the right group of people together to continue moving the society in a forward direction.

I’d personally like to thank my City Manager, Rachael Tabelski, for traveling here all the way from Batavia to be a part of this and for her, and the Batavia City Council’s, continued support of me participating at this level with the Municipal Finance Officers. My co-worker, co-hort, and friend, Heidi Parker, for being my travel and conference attendee companion since day one – back in 2009. And I’d like to thank my husband, Jim, who also traveled here today to be a part of this, who has always been supporter and my number one cheerleader.

As I mentioned, we, as a board, have been through a lot of change…upheaval seems like a dramatic way to put it but it has felt like that at times. We’ve had 3 changes in our secretary/treasurer, we’ve had board members and advisors retire (I think 5 of those), we’ve had board members change jobs to non-municipal positions (3) but all has made our group stronger. Committee procedures, fall training school procedures, getting a better understanding of the underlying workings of the society, and delegating to and empowering committees and even reaching out to members to help has been pretty much something that we’ve become quite familiar with and adept at doing. We are stronger as a result. More cohesive and I find it’s made us a closer knit group. I look at myself standing here and wonder how the heck this ever happened. When Chuck Rankin asked me to join the board back when Meg Hungerford was taking the position of President in (in 2018), (by the way Meg and I spoke a week or so ago and asked me to say hi to everyone), anyway, it’s sort of a joke…I almost thought it must have been some sort of initiation…, I had no idea that joining put me on a trajectory of becoming the president in 6- 7 years. And it never did come to my attention or occur to me until the END of Jennifer Kraft’s reign as president (and that was in 2020). So it’s been a bit of a joke that we all laugh about time and again.

Every president seems to have their own personal goals – what they want to see come to fruition during their year. Having said all of that, one of my goals for the upcoming year is to develop a Board Packet or handbook, if you will. Something to give to people who are interested in joining us along with a welcome packet for those who already have, so that everyone understands what the expectations are or what opportunities may come your way when joining us. I think it’s a good way of making people feel welcome.

In addition, Mary Ann Henderson started in motion creating a more structured environment for our committees to operate under; an environment of being empowered. Many have already created procedures to allow for more cohesive transfer to new committee members. I will work towards continuing that and getting any committees that haven’t already done so, on board. This only allows for a smoother transition from year to year. I’d also like to see that with the secretary/treasurer position but with Chrissy being brand new, we might give her some time to acclimate and get her feet on the ground. By the way everyone, please meet Chrissy Kiernan from the Village of Westbury who is our new Secretary/Treasurer. Thank you Chrissy, for taking on this task.

Also, Marianne Lobaccarro, during her reign, has worked on revamping the Society’s mentorship program. This is a more than a one year endeavor and is quite substantial in nature. So one of my goals is to support that initiative and help continue the forward momentum by supporting that program. That’s the main reason why we’re here after all – to support one another and be of service to others. Someone once said “we are finance officers helping finance officers”. That made me smile and proud.

So everyone here, please look to this Board as members of your network and should you ever need assistance, reach out to the members, take advantage of our mentoring program, let us know if there is a topic you are in need of training on. And if you find yourself wanting to become a little more involved, to grow personally and professionally; to be part of this supportive extended family of finance officers…we look for new board members every year. I personally feel there is no better way to get to know people.

In closing, I’d like to thank Marianne Lobaccaro for her work as President this past year. Thank you for the wonderful job you have done. If there was anyone I had to follow, Marianne was not one of them. With Marianne’s un-ending energy, she has left behind HUMONGOUS shoes to fill. I can only hope to do it justice but I am grateful for the opportunity. Thank you all, again, for your participation today and I look forward to working with you all this year. And now, door prizes!