FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Even amid the process of auditing and creating the budget for Forsyth County, the Finance Department is calm, cool and collected. That’s how it should be, according to Director of Finance Rebecca Whitmire.
“I enjoy working together and creating something that is reflective of who we are in the midst of business as usual,” Whitmire said. “We are able to improve processes and encourage and support the staff here to feel satisfied when they go home at the end of the day and not stressed.”
Whitmire grew up in Forsyth County, graduated from the University of North Georgia and worked in Atlanta for more than 25 years. Three years ago she had the chance to return home and work in the county’s Finance Department.
“It’s nice to come home and serve the citizens of the county with my experience,” Whitmire said. “We have excellent leadership through the Board of Commissioners, County Manager’s office, and the CFO Dave Gruen is wonderful to work with. I’m enjoying every moment of it.”
The department is multi-functional, she said, so they are always busy. Annually, staff issues the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, and budget award books. Staff just finished the 2016 audit for the county and the next CAFR is on schedule to be issued a month early this year.
“We work with all the departments,” Whitmire said. “The entire staff reports to me. We have the Accounting Department, Grant Office and Budget Office. Dave takes a lead on the budget but we are all working in the trenches year round.”
Whitmire’s previous experience working in international and public companies as well as cash management has helped with her current role. She also enjoys being able to help all departments in the county get money for things they need, especially grant writing.
“It’s something that’s more human based,” Whitmire said. “It’s interesting to see if we can help provide for programs that wouldn’t necessarily have funding. I’m interested in helping the community, and as I grow closer to retirement, I’d like to add value with assisting with grants.”
The process is creative, she said, because you want to see what your financial picture looks like 5-10 years from now.
“We work with the departments to put those tools in place,” Whitmire said. “Then they give us input, and we hopefully get them where they need to be to get toward that financial plan.”
Currently she is working with the Fire Department on funding to replace the old volunteer fire stations with new stations.
“We have multi-million dollar projects within the Parks and Recreation division, engineering, roads and Fire Department,” Whitmire said. “We have so much going on from a project perspective. But it’s reflective of the growth of the county. I’m happy to be here at this point in time to add value to my hometown.”