Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Outgoing finance director helped reshape budget process

Editor | July 4, 2024 12:00 AM

Kim Sassaman, the City of Polson’s recently retired finance director, headed for her new home in Florida in late June with her second “clean audit” report behind her, and a more relaxing future ahead.

Sassaman joined the city’s staff two years ago after a stint at Mission West Community Development Partners. A native of Pennsylvania, she and her husband moved to the Mission Valley in 2001.

According to Polson City Manager Ed Meece, “Kim has done a tremendous job with our budget in the time that she's been here.”

In addition to completing the budget on time and earning high marks from the auditor for two consecutive years, Meece said Sassaman has also “demystified the process, internally and externally.”

He credits her with working closely with department heads, engaging them in “a team-wide collaborative process.” With her help, each member of the leadership team learned how to input their budgets into the financial data software.

“Kim trained every one of those people individually, sat with them as they did it this year for the first time,” Meece said. “So the department heads are now in a position where they have full unfettered access to all of their budget and ongoing financial data.”

In addition, they've learned to input their own budget requests.

At the end of that process, “we put it all on the table and we try and solve the big problems,” Meece said. “Kim facilitated that.”

Sassaman was modest about her accomplishments, noting that when she first began working at the city, she was unfamiliar with government accounting.

“Although there's a lot left undone that I wanted to do, I feel like I've accomplished a lot and I at this point my head's above the water and I know what I'm supposed to be doing,” she said. “So, I'm proud of that.”

Her replacement, Jodi O’Sullivan, takes over July 15. She’s a certified public accountant and former city employee, who is also a devoted member of the Polson Volunteer Fire Department.