South Charlotte

Finance team wins kudos for 10th year

The Matthews Finance Department has just been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 2007, the 10th year in a row.

Matthews Mayor Lee Myers recognized the department for its achievement at Monday's meeting, presenting a plaque and certificate to finance director Christine Surratt.

The recognition, awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, means that the town has gone beyond what is required when producing its Comprehensive Annual Finance Report.

The reports are judged by an impartial panel to meet high standards, including a “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate the town's financial story.

“There's not much glory in finance, but this is the highest recognition that a government finance office can receive,” said Surratt. “We're proud of what we do, and this recognition shows that we do it well and have nothing to hide.”

While the finance department generally keeps a low profile, Surratt says that her four-person department pays bills, crunches numbers and makes sure employees get paid.

“If it wasn't for us, the town couldn't operate,” said Surratt.

She credits the award to a joint effort between the finance department, the town manager and commissioners. But she heads up the effort each year.

Surratt joined the town 23 years ago as a temporary employee hired to do filing. She says that at that time, the filing system consisted of three stacks of papers, each about 3 feet tall, sitting in the vault.

“Matthews was in the midst of annexations and there were so many records to file. It took me about six months to get everything in order, and then I was hired full time. The running joke was that they had to hire me, otherwise they couldn't have found anything,” said Surratt.

She quickly settled into the finance department and found a home among all the numbers and statistics. Four years ago she was named department director, a job she loves though she admits keeping track of debits and credits and balancing a budget isn't exactly glamorous.

“The numbers are what they are. You hear people talk about creative financing, but you can only add one plus one so many times and you always get the same answer,” said Surratt.

“Christine has been with the organization for more than 20 years and has seen the town change,” says Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett. “Her leadership has helped the town keep its strong financial footing. Matthews wouldn't be where it is today without her.”