Calexico finance director Zernow resigns

February 22, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Amid continued criticism by the City Council here over a lack of up-to-date city financial statements being made available, city Finance Director Mel Zernow resigned Wednesday.

Zernow had been with the city less than a year, coming aboard the Finance Department in the summer of 2000 to replace longtime department head Judy Hashem.

The reasons for Zernow's resignation, effective March 6, were unavailable this morning.

Neither City Manager Rich Inman nor Zernow could be reached for comment as of presstime.

City Council members had discussed Zernow's performance in executive session on several occasions over the last couple months, most recently Tuesday night.

Further, on repeated occasions Zernow was grilled in open session by council members regarding when financial statements dating to October would be ready for council perusal.


Calexico City Councilman John Renison said this morning, "There was increased concern on behalf of the council concerning a lack of information provided."

He added, "It's unfortunate it had to come to this, but we have to have accurate monthly financials."

Mayor Javier Alatorre said this morning he has long advocated the need for monthly financial statement so the council could make informed decisions regarding expenditures and other city business.

He added direction was given to the city manager and Zernow on several occasions to get out financial statements as soon as possible.

"There was frustration among the council members because we need that information to make educated decisions," Alatorre said.

When asked if Zernow would have been fired had he not resigned, Alatorre said that is the decision of the city manager, not the council.

Zernow had served as city manager of Holtville from August 1999 to April 2000, when he tendered his resignation there. Holtville City Council members have never said what led to Zernow's resignation.

Of Zernow, Alatorre said: "I think he did an honest effort to help us to improve the (billing and accounting) system in the city."

As for the future of the Calexico finance director position, little information was available this morning.

Still, Renison and Alatorre are hopeful a qualified individual can be found to lead the city's finance department.

"We will start the process to bring in someone knowledgeable and familiar with accounting systems in a city, but I wish (Zernow) the best," Alatorre said.

Said Renison: "This is something that hopefully, at this point now, we can get some accurate financials."

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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