Jablonski Appointed City Recorder

Jablonski Appointed City Recorder
Posted on 06/26/2019
Jablonski Congratulated by Mayor Chaz Molder(Article by Jay Powell, Columbia Daily Herald 06/22/19) As a man of many hats, Assistant City Manager Thad Jablonski can now add another title to his list of duties in steering Columbia’s growth, while making life easier for citizens. 

Jablonski, who in addition to his work in the city manager’s office, also serves as Columbia’s finance director, overseeing things like the city’s annual budget, grant applications and how Columbia spends its taxpayer dollars. He will now take his position as the new Columbia city recorder, a position previously held by Molly Benderman.

Bendermen, who will remain on staff, served in the role starting in 2017, replacing former Finance Director Patti Amorello. Amorello stepped into the position following the passing of longtime City Recorder Betty Modrall, who died March 15, 2016 after serving the city for 59 years.

Jablonski was first appointed to the city recorder position May 27, but was officially sworn in last week by Mayor Chaz Molder and the Columbia City Council. He said it is common in many municipalities similar in size to Columbia for the city recorder and finance divisions to operate as one entity. City staff saw this as an opportunity to bring both departments together, which in the end will make them both stronger.

“These are both functions of finance and administration for the city, and this was a way for us to modernize it and move forward,” Jablonski said.

“We’re becoming one big happy family, rather than operating as two different silos. We’ve got great people here, and our success is followed from that. The people in the recorder’s office and the finance office are doing big things. So it’s exciting.”

By overseeing both departments, it will create a more fluid system for handling city finances. This includes accounts receivable, employee payroll, court proceedings, as well as developing and implementing the city’s budget and annual audit processes.

Jablonski is most excited by the benefits of both divisions can now work together, which he said will definitely come in handy during tax season.

“Right now we can share staff resources, and we’re already cross-training people,” Jablonski said. “If you look ahead, when tax season gets real hot and heavy, it gets so busy down there. But now we’ll have those folks cross-trained so they can go down and help whenever someone gets sick, or if they just need an extra hand for a day or the whole week. When it comes to sharing staff resources, it just makes sense.”

Part of the “cross-training” includes training staff members to become Certified Municipal Finance Officers (CMFOs).

Looking for ways the department can implement new resources for citizens is another goal Jablonski hopes to accomplish with his new position. Currently, his staff is working to select a vendor to create an online payment system, which was identified in the city’s strategic plan last year. He is hopeful that in the process of implementing online payments, the city could not only make things more convenient for citizens, but also find new ways to save taxpayer money.

“We want to take our time and do it right, but pushing big projects like those through is important to me,” Jablonski said. “Right now citizens can make property tax payments online, but that’s where the online payments stop. Our goal would be, in addition to online property tax payments, you can pay anything whether it’s a parking ticket, an alarm permit, liquor store tax. Whether you owe the city $100 or $10, you should be able to pay it online. That’s the goal.”

In the meantime, Jablonski said he is focusing on getting all of his staff trained and CMFO certified, and creating a much more streamlined finance division that, in the end, will benefit everyone.

“We’re working together as one team, both divisions as one team, so that we’re speaking the same language, that we understand the same things the same way as it relates to accounting and financing,” Jablonski said. “That professional development has gotten us so much at this point, to where when we get to the end of the road and have everybody on board, it’ll be so noticeable day-to-day, at least internally. The goal is to provide citizens with exceptional services, which is what it’s always been about.”