Sprigman Hiring Doesn't Sit Well with Committee Dems
Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo said Sprigman was appointed by a vote along party lines; her colleague Sam Cianfarini said the acting CFO was the most qualified for the position.
She may be personable, a good manager and well-liked by people in the West Deptford government, but acting township CFO Brenda Sprigman is still not a certified municipal finance officer (CMFO), says Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo—and that concerns her.
"Upset is probably an understatement of how I felt" leaving the special meeting of the West Deptford Committee Tuesday night, DiCarlo said. "I thought this was a position that we would go and hire the best-qualified candidate."
DiCarlo, a Democrat, claimed that Sprigman's appointment, which was approved by a 3-2 vote along party lines, was a political decision that favored the local GOP party treasurer.
"When you think about it in an accounting standard, we had two qualified candidates who were [CMFO-certified], who were not in the Republican Party," said DiCarlo, who is herself an accountant.
"You had one who is [Republican], and she gets the job," she said.
Even if Sprigman is able to earn her CMFO certificate on the first try in spring 2014, says DiCarlo, she failed to meet "even the minimum qualifications that we outlined" for the position.
Committeeman Sam Cianfarini and Mayor Ray Chintall told Patch that they believe Sprigman's private-sector experience gave her an edge over the other candidates the group considered, but DiCarlo said those very attributes specifically concerned her.
"My personal opinion is that her private experience is not a positive," DiCarlo said. "We need somebody to come in and fix the township's books and records," work she said the township is paying independent auditors and consultants to perform.
"There have been comments in recent meetings that [Sprigman] has completed all the bank reconciliations and she has gotten the general ledger up," DiCarlo said. "[Sprigman's] exact words were, 'I started to do the reconciliations, but it got too complex, and I handed it over to the consultants.'"
DiCarlo also said that Sprigman's lack of certification could be troublesome because she may not be legally able to sign off on certain documents of record. She also fears Sprigman may not be prepared to handle the rigors of a public audit without additional support from consultants, which would add expenses.
"If you've ever been audited, it's very time-consuming work," DiCarlo said. "You don't want to find out in January, when the books are closed, that you missed something."
DiCarlo said her choice, West Deptford resident Daniel Leh, has been a licensed CMFO since 1988 and is also a registered municipal accountant. She nominated Leh because he has completed an Edmunds (a manufacturer of local government software) conversion, something West Deptford is considering to modernize its bookkeeping system.
"That's a primary goal of the township," DiCarlo said.
DiCarlo also fears that Sprigman's pro-tem appointment will compromise the ability of the government to hire for its assistant treasurer position, which has been vacant since May 2012. According to the committee decision Tuesday, Sprigman's appointment will expire at the end of 2012.
"We don't know if [Sprigman] is going to be here Jan. 1," DiCarlo said. "I think it limits our pool of candidates [for the assistant treasurer].
"We need to put this to bed," she said. "We haven't had a CMFO in this position for 20 years."
'If she wasn't qualified, I wouldn't have voted for her'
Cianfarini disputed DiCarlo's claims that Sprigman was hired merely for her GOP allegiances.
"Unfortunately, things in West Deptford are very political at this point in time," said Cianfarini, "when it really should not be.
"Mrs. Sprigman was the most qualified candidate by far from a holistic financial background," he said. "If she wasn't, I wouldn't have voted for her, friend or not."
Cianfarini pointed out that Sprigman was the only respondant to the position to carry an MBA, and that she had "many, many years of diverse experience in big, big companies," including managing as many as 130 auditors at one point. He also downplayed the necessity of her immediately possessing a CMFO certificate.
"Fifty percent of the New Jersey CMFOs are maintaining a [general ledger] in an in appropriate way," Cianfarini said. "If you did that in the private sector for more than a few months, you're fired."
"She's the only respondant that had an MBA," he said. "To say that 'you don't have a miunicipal certification, you're not qualified for the job' is ludicrous."
Cianfarini is also confident that Sprigman will be able to earn her CMFO when she sits for the test in May 2014 as she plans to do. He further downplayed the notion that the acting CFO needed outside assistance to reconcile bank statements made her unsuitable for the job.
"I run a company; bank reconciliations are no big deal," Cianfarini said. "When you have a spaghetti mess, like the kind that was left by the previous administration, you use the best resource," he said; namely the paid consultants who have assisted in the transition.
"Do we have support for the position right now?" Cianfarini said. "Yes, because our former CFO gave his two weeks notice in December.
"I don't think it was that she couldn't do it like Mrs. DiCarlo portrays," he said.