Henrico shedding finance director Coates to UR

Henrico Finance Director Meghan Coates

Henrico Finance Director Meghan Coates, who has earned frequent reward throughout her transient tenure with the county, is leaving subsequent month for a place with the College of Richmond.

Coates helped usher the county by way of its most up-to-date two budgets, main an Eleventh-hour effort to slash $99 million from the proposed 2020-21 fiscal 12 months plan in March 2020 – instantly after the pandemic started and simply because the county’s board of supervisors was making ready to weigh the unique plan.

At UR, Coates will change into affiliate vp for monetary planning and price range.

Below her steerage, the county final 12 months shifted from an annual to a quarterly price range allocation course of, as a method to extra precisely account for potential month-to-month modifications in income in gentle of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. It has continued that method this 12 months, and because of a mix of better-than-expected tax revenues, vital federal pandemic-relief funding and Henrico’s continuation of its traditionally conservative method to budgeting, the county now could be in rarefied air financially.

Henrico County Supervisor John Vithoulkas has praised Coates’s efforts publicly on quite a few events throughout her two-year tenure with the county, together with earlier this month. She got here to Henrico in 2019, following practically 12 years with Chesterfield County, together with six months as its price range and administration director.

“As the previous finance director of this county, [and] former price range director, I can inform you that this county’s funds have by no means been so capably managed,” Vithoulkas advised supervisors throughout a Sept. 14 work session. “This younger woman has performed a outstanding job for this county, and I simply need to publicly acknowledge her efforts and successes. We’re in a spot the place we’re ending this 12 months with the strongest monetary place that now we have ever had, and far of that’s because of the stewardship of Ms. Coates.”

The county’s fund stability – the distinction between its monetary property and liabilities – was practically $275 million as of June 2020, with $135 million of that quantity unassigned to any future tasks. As soon as an ongoing monetary audit is accomplished and offered to the board of supervisors in November, that whole will develop. The unassigned “wet day fund” quantity is a key part in serving to Henrico keep its AAA bond-rating standing from all three main bond issuers, which in flip retains its rates of interest low and saves it thousands and thousands of {dollars} when it sells bonds to pay for infrastructure tasks, equivalent to constructing colleges or roads.

Henrico additionally has saved thousands and thousands by refinancing excellent bonds through the previous two years.

Coates was seen as a quickly-rising star within the county’s authorities. Employed as deputy finance director, she took over as appearing director in November 2019 and was named to the position on a everlasting foundation in August 2020.

She in contrast her method to finance as being much like that of a chess match, during which it’s all the time essential to suppose a number of strikes forward and consider all potential decisions and outcomes. That mindset, she stated, helped put together her for the surprising challenges created by the pandemic.

“That’s the sport in finance, you’re taking part in chess day by day,” she stated. “For me, what I discovered was that that kind of strategic considering and that kind of labor ethic the place you’re ensuring you all the time have decisions and choices actually proved to be precious [during the pandemic.]”

Coates made it a precedence to assist finance division staff higher perceive their roles and higher work together with residents, she stated, serving to to empower them to be artistic and develop new approaches on their very own on the similar time.

“I really feel fairly good concerning the progress that was made and the management I’ve been capable of present,” Coates advised the Citizen. “I take consolation in understanding that I’m leaving the county higher off than I discovered it. We did numerous nice work, however Henrico was already in a very nice place once I got here right here.”

Her resolution to depart Henrico was partially the results of the pandemic and the angle it supplied about what was most vital to her personally, she stated. A current journey again to Roanoke Faculty, her alma mater, reminded her of how invigorated she felt throughout that point in her life and prompted her, on a whim, to look at job choices on the UR, which occurred to have a gap.

In her new position, she’s going to lead monetary planning and budgeting for the college, together with strategic planning and long-term monetary goal-setting, she stated.

Although she’s excited to start at UR, she stated she’ll miss with the ability to witness the affect a few of her selections have made on the county.

“It’s all the time been rewarding to really feel like I used to be contributing to the group, that I might see the street that I helped finance or that I might see youngsters going into the college that I helped promote bonds for,” she stated.

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