Deliah Vaughn started her job as the City of Columbus Chief Financial Officer this week.
As the person responsible for managing the city’s finances and alerting city leadership to any issues that might emerge in the budget, the CFO position is one of the most important jobs in any city.
The circumstances surrounding Vaughn’s arrival make her work even more critical.
If you will pardon the sports analogy, Vaughn is like the quarterback who comes off the bench in the third quarter with the team trailing by two touchdowns. She must perform at a high level and there’s little time to waste.
“She’s got to pick up the ball and run with it,” noted Ward 2 councilman Joe Mickens.
Vaughn is taking over the books of a city that has operated at a deficit two fiscal years in a row and is now facing the possibility of the city’s general fund being in debt over $338,000 at the end of this fiscal year, according to cash flow projections by certified public accountant and city consultant Mike Crowder. She replaces Milton Rawle, who resigned in February after being suspended by the city council for what it said was failure to properly warn the council of the gravity of the city’s financial problems.
With that fresh in the mind, Vaughn will be held to high expectations for keeping an eagle eye on city finances and making sure the council has a clear picture of the city’s budget. She’ll present her first budget report to the council Tuesday and, unlike previous meetings where city council gave scarce attention to the CFO report, her report will be closely scrutinized. She will likely be questioned carefully on her report. The meeting will provide insight into her understanding of the city’s budget, even as she’s still learning the vagaries of a new job.
Often, when a change is made at quarterback, a team rallies behind the new player. Each member of the game “steps up his game” in the pursuit of a common goal.
That certainly needs to happen here, too. The council is not blameless for the budget situation Vaughn inherits, after all.
We trust her arrival will be accompanied by a renewed commitment to sound budget policy by the mayor and city council.
We wish Vaughn every success because, to a great degree, her success is a win for the city and its residents.
Welcome to the game, CFO Vaughn.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.