The city of Superior is losing its top two financial officers within the next month.
Finance Director Jean Vito and Assistant Finance Director Chris Bronson both announced plans to leave city employment this week.
Bronson said he resigned his position Monday, June 17, after being presented with an opportunity by Hartel’s/DBJ Disposal in Proctor.
“I have kind of a history in the garbage business, and I was approached with an excellent opportunity and decided to take it,” Bronson said. He said it wasn’t an easy decision because the city has been a good employer over the last 10 years.
“I was not looking,” Bronson said. “The opportunity came to me.”
Bronson was hired as the internal auditor in the Finance Department in 2008, and was promoted to assistant finance director in 2013, after then-Assistant Finance Director Dan Zuchowski retired.
Bronson said his last day with the city will be July 12, and after a planned family vacation, he starts in his new position with Hartel’s on July 22.
The day Bronson starts his new job is the same day Vito plans to retire after almost 27 years in the city’s Finance Department.
Vito said she became eligible for retirement in May and planned to retire at the end of the year but decided to move up her retirement date. She declined to comment on why.
The announcement came the morning of Wednesday, June 19, following a politically charged Council meeting in which Councilor Craig Sutherland sought to censure Councilor Jenny Van Sickle for criticism of City Attorney Frog Prell posted on Twitter. While the Council voted 6-4 to censure her, Mayor Jim Paine announced he would veto the Council’s action.
Vito, a certified public accountant, join the city in January 1993 as the assistant finance director, working under then-Finance Director Tim Nelson. She was appointed to serve as finance director in November 2001, after having served as interim following Nelson’s retirement. Her role was expanded in 2014, when Mayor Bruce Hagen also made her the city’s senior administrative officer.
The departures come as the city wrestles with significant financial issues concerning its self-funded health insurance plan for city employees and the city begins its budget process for 2020.
“I feel very happy for both of them,” Paine said. “This is really good news in both of their lives. And I’m certainly grateful for the help they’ve given me in my first two years in office.”
However, the mayor said the finance department is going to be short-staffed at a busy time of year, and he hopes to have the budget for 2020 finished, with a large contingency, by time Vito retires.
“Of course, we’re going to start the hiring process right away,” Paine said. He said the city will have a condensed timeline of about three weeks, longer if necessary, to make a recommendation to the Council for the city’s finance director.
“We will still be very deliberate,” Paine said. “We’ll have a small hiring committee and try and make a recommendation as quickly as possible to the Council.
“The good news is we do have some people in that department who are perfectly qualified to provide some leadership in the interim.”