INDEPENDENCE, Ohio—Independence city officials have appointed a former city employee as the Interim Finance Director.
Former Finance Director, John Veres, CPA, announced his plans for resigning in February. Veres was quoted in the city’s administrative update as saying he would be accepting a new position as the Finance Director for Macedonia.
He agreed to continue to work with Independence after beginning his new position to help ensure a smooth transition. Since that time, Mayor Anthony Togliatti assumed the responsibilities of the Finance Director.
Togliatti explained that he was authorized by City Council members to sign documents relevant to city finances during this period. He went on to say that the city officials decided to appoint an interim director because the city will be undertaking some transactions that require direct separation from the Mayor and will need a full-fledged Finance Director.
The newly appointed director is former city employee, Gus Katsas. He served as the city’s Purchasing Coordinator within the Finance Department from 2014-2018. Council members voted on legislation that would appoint Katsas as the director at the June City Council meeting. The resolution was unanimously approved and Katsas will be in office until the November general election.
“The [position] would be vacant for such a short period that we didn’t want to disrupt [operations]. Bringing back a retired member was the smoothest transaction,” said Togliatti.
Katsas retired last year from the city of Independence. Before that, he became familiar with the public sector budget process as a member of the Finance Department for the Cleveland Metroparks. Katsas has also worked as a treasurer in for-profit since the early 2000s.
He explained that he was contacted by the Mayor and asked if he would return as the interim director. “I’m knowledgeable of the city’s finances and budgeting. [There are] very talented and qualified people in the finance department now bringing me up to speed,” said Katsas.
Upcoming projects within the city that will need a second signature aside from just the Mayor’s include construction projects, road work, and paying off bonds that were used towards the community center. Katsas said that only having the Mayor’s signature on projects of this size and cost would be improper.
After the November 2018 elections, Issue 39 was passed for the city of Independence, in which a person appointed to the position of finance director must run for election if they are appointed prior to a general election occurring at least 120 days from the initial appointment.
When speaking with the Mayor, Katsas asked if he and the city council members had considered asking a person who had filed with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to take on the position. Katsas said the Mayor believed that appointing someone who had already filed to run for Finance Director in the fall would be an unfair advantage.
According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website, there are two candidates who have pulled a petition to be on the ballot. The first is current city council member Patricia Wisnieski, and the second is Independence resident Chris Zamborsky. These two candidates must obtain 100 signatures of registered voters for their name to appear on the November ballot.