After an extensive search and , the town of Brookfield has hired someone they hope will be the long-term financial director for the town: Brookfield resident William Leverence, who has spent the last 30 years as the director of fiscal operations for the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation.
Leverence will replace outgoing Interim Controller Jay Wahlberg, a former financial director for the town of Ridgefield who came on board in Brookfield when First Selectman Bill Davidson was elected in 2009.
“Jay was hired for a finite period of time,” Davidson explained, whereas Leverence was brought on to shepherd the town’s finances through the long-term. “This was a nationwide search but we ended up with someone right here in town.”
Leverence and his family moved to Brookfield in the late 1980s after he and his wife, Sandra, became tired of the pace of life living near New York City.
While looking throughout Fairfield and Westchester Counties, “We came across the town of Brookfield and fell in love with it,” Leverence said. While both he and Sandra maintained their jobs further south, “You’re away from everything when you’re here, further away from the rat race,” and an ideal place for them to raise their two children — one a junior at and the other a recent college graduate.
Leverence continued to work for Westchester County after moving to town and said he “wasn’t looking for or seriously considering” a career change, however he saw the in Brookfield Patch’s and jumped at the chance to work closer to home.
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Of the eight applicants to make it through the early stages of this second round, Leverence was the “top candidate across the board,” according to Brookfield’s Director of Human Resources Cathy Greenwood, who cited his qualifications in “operations, accounting and most of all municipal experience, particularly in the financial area.”
Along with his 30 years of experience in Westchester County government, Leverence holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Management from Alfred University and is working toward a Masters in Public Administration at Pace University.
Though he has three decades of experience managing budgets in a municipal setting, Leverence said he expects the new position to be a new kind of challenge.
“Town government is a lot smaller, but it will give me the opportunity to get my hands on every aspect of government,” rather than just a relatively small section, he explained. With his prior position, “I only see in detail what affects the department I manage,” while acting as financial director for an entire town will allow him to work with every level of government.
“He’s a veteran [of municipal finances], he understands the game and has managed in a bigger financial environment,” Davidson said. “But this will be bigger for him in terms of interaction with people,” as the controller works directly with every department in town
Though town government presents different challenges than that of cities, “I’m going to do what I’ve done my whole career,” Leverence said, “Work to improve processes and streamline.”
As part of that, one of his first steps after acclimating himself with Brookfield’s finances will be to make the town’s financial reporting more accessible to the townspeople.
“I want to present the information in a way that’s easier for a taxpayer to understand,” he said. “People want to know where their money’s going.”
Rather than simple line item summaries, Leverence plans to lay out the town’s budget in a way that explicitly shows where funding is being allocated and the effect each program and service has on the bottom line.
“I’m going to be the person that helps establish the tax bill that I’m going to be paying,” he said, expressing the fact that, as a resident, he will have as much stake in the process and result as every other taxpayer.
After a round of interviews with the search committee — made up of Greenwood, School District Director of Business and Technology Art Coley, Board of Finance Vice Chair Irv Agard, Town Treasurer David Scribner and Selectman Howard Lasser — the town extended the offer of employment on June 1 and it was accepted on June 4. He is expected to begin the transition process early next week, coming in with a starting annual salary of $105,000. (Wahlberg’s salary was $100,000 a year as of the 2012-13 budget.)
“I’m so excited,” Leverence said about starting the new job. “I can’t wait to be able to work in Brookfield and for Brookfield.”