PUD picks new chief financial officer

Allison Arthur aarthur@ptleader.com
Posted 2/28/17

Susan Carter has been hired as chief financial officer (CFO) and financial director of the Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD).

Carter comes to the PUD after a string of CFOs have quit …

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PUD picks new chief financial officer

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Susan Carter has been hired as chief financial officer (CFO) and financial director of the Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD).

Carter comes to the PUD after a string of CFOs have quit or been let go from the utility. There have been three permanent chief financial officers and two interim CFOs since the East Jefferson County holdings were purchased from the private utility Puget Sound Energy in 2013.

Carter takes the helm on Monday, April 3. She comes from Alpharetta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta where she worked for the Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation for more than 30 years, holding a variety of accounting positions, according to a press release from Jefferson County PUD. Sawnee serves a seven-county territory northeast of Atlanta that provides electricity to more than 150,000 members.

Carter held the position of director of accounting services for the Sawnee cooperative before taking the job in Jefferson County, according to the release.

She will earn $127,000 a year, said PUD General Manager Jim Parker.

“I enjoyed my visit to Port Townsend earlier this month and look forward to serving the community as the PUD’s new CFO,” Carter is quoted as saying in that press release. She is retiring from her position with her current employer and will spend the next few weeks wrapping up projects for Sawnee and preparing for her move to Jefferson County.

Carter has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from North Georgia College and State University and is currently taking the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) Borrower Accounting Course. Jefferson County PUD is a RUS borrower. RUS is a program of the USDA and comes with an additional set of accounting rules to follow, beyond what is required of a Washington state municipal corporation like the PUD.

Parker said the RUS requirements have been difficult to meet for past CFOs, and it has been hard to find a CFO with such expertise.

Carter succeeds Bob Caprye, who took the job in early 2015 and was terminated in May 2016 while the state Auditor’s Office was auditing the district’s books between 2012 and 2014, before he had was named CFO.

In a settlement a few months later, Caprye was paid $87,500. Neither Caprye nor PUD officials could comment on the settlement agreement or make disparaging remarks about the other, according to the agreement, which The Leader obtained in December and reported in its Dec. 28 edition.

Caprye had replaced Michael Legarsky, former financial director for the City of Port Townsend. Legarsky had replaced David Papendrew, a contracted auditor when the PUD bought the electric system.

And between Papendrew’s and Legarsky’s tenures, the PUD also had hired Greg Kester, who worked for Mason County Public Utility 1, as an interim financial auditor.

The PUD had a clean audit of its books for 2015, it was announced in February. That clean audit followed on the heels last year of the state recording “findings” on records in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Parker attributed the clean audit for 2015 to its last interim CFO, Tammy Esslinger-Lehman, who was hired to get the books in shape. Controller Kim Younger also was working with her.

The PUD tried to hire Esslinger-Lehman as the permanent CFO, but she declined because she lives in Texas.

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