I’m terrible at math. I’m also not that great at foreign languages; despite the fact that I took Spanish in elementary, high school AND college, I can barely ask where the restroom is. I also didn’t pursue a master’s degree, even though I thought about it a few times.
Yet Susy Collins, finance director for the City of Claremore, is a math whiz. She holds three degrees: associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s, and here’s the best part: English is Susy’s second language.
Susy is originally from Mexico, where she met her husband. They married and returned to his home in Verdigris, where they still live happily, 26 years later. They have two children in college. (Their daughter is studying abroad in Italy; how fabulous is that?!)
Susy has always enjoyed math. Before she worked in Claremore, she held a position as a state auditor for the Internal Revenue Service. She also previously worked with accounting fraud and economic crime. But despite the fun of working with numbers, she decided the IRS wasn’t the best fit for her. It was stressful, and she didn’t enjoy the feeling that came with auditing small businesses who couldn’t pay. She wanted to help people, not hurt them.
About a year and a half ago, Susy was hired by the city. Her main objective is preparing the city’s budget. She assists each department head with calculating expenses and revenue, and is currently planning a new financial policies and procedures handbook for city employees. In preparing the annual budget, she first submits it to city manager Jim Thomas, and then it’s presented to the finance committee, which is comprised of city council members. They have the opportunity to review and ask any questions. When the budget is approved, it’s presented to the city council as a whole. When finalized, the completed budget is printed in the Claremore Daily Progress. This gives all citizens the chance to read it over and ask any questions. If a person does have a question, he or she can simply go to City Hall and ask Susy. The budget will be approved by early June.
Other aspects of the finance director’s job are accounts payable and receivable, central purchasing, bank reconciliations and cash collection. Susy provides the accounting records necessary for monthly, quarterly, and annual financial statements and documents with a high degree of accuracy for the City Treasurer, as well as many other responsibilities.
Susy has been busy in her time with the city. One of the first fun things she did was to redecorate the finance department. The walls were originally a glum, dreary green from many, many years ago. After learning that Google uses bright colors to increase productivity in employees, Susy had the walls painted a cheery turquoise. The employees I met certainly seemed happy! (Plus, they were talking about cake, so that could help the good moods.) She has also updated purchasing policies and survived an audit, which she passed with flying colors. That means she’s taking good care of the city’s resources. She’s also managed to save the city quite a bit of money, which is nice.
In the early days after being hired, Susy noticed that there wasn’t much communication happening between the various departments, something else she has worked to rectify. It’s important for everyone to work together to accomplish their goals. Susy’s goal is to save money and use the city’s resources in the most productive way.
An exciting project that’s coming up is the expansion of the water treatment plant at Claremore Lake. The current facility will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation, resulting in a better quality of water for our citizens.
Susy is grateful and happy to be working in Claremore. She loves her job and has learned a lot from the city’s department heads, especially Larry Hughes from Claremore Electric, who taught her how the utilities system works. She said everyone works wonderfully well together, and that the department heads each have a mission to make Claremore the best it can possibly be.
Susy can be found at City Hall at 104 S. Muskogee. She can be reached by phone at (918) 341-1325, Monday – Friday 9a – 4p.
Keep it local, Claremore!
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
who really needs to brush up on Spanish.