Help cities spend money wisely, and find responsible ways to pay for important projects and city council priorities.
Karla McCall, former finance director, Moorhead (retired)
Why she shows up every day: Minnesota has many opportunities for government to accomplish a variety of things, and that’s exciting in the field of finance because you can be involved in helping to make things happen in your community and finding creative ways to finance projects or help get things accomplished in your city.
I like to think that my position helps citizens have confidence in how public money is spent. They need to be sure that city services will be provided, and they need to have confidence that spending will be done safely, effectively, and in the best interest of the community. I enjoy actually demonstrating that to the public—being transparent is one thing I enjoy—and educating the general public about what we do with their money, how it’s spent, and how government works. That, to me, is enjoyable.
How she got the job (and how you could too): I have a four-year degree from California State University, Fresno in business administration finance. I worked in government as a young person, working in parks and recreation during high school and college. After I got my degree, I started working for a county in California as the deputy auditor and recorder. And then my husband and I moved to Montana where I worked for the City of Livingston as a purchasing agent, and I went on to be the finance officer for Big Sky Water and Sewer District. We moved from there to Minnesota, and for 15 years I was the finance officer for the City of Perham in Northern Minnesota. After my kids went off to college, we moved to North Carolina, and I was the finance director there for the town of Tarboro. And then my kids started having kids, so in 2014 we moved back to Minnesota to be closer to our grandchildren. I worked for the city of Faribault, and now I work for the city of Moorhead.
What’s the job like? We’re involved in an array of functions, so it’s more active than, say, if you were in a company that makes one widget and that’s all you do all day. You get to work with a variety of other functions—police, fire, streets, utilities, engineering, IT, community development, and more. I am actually here to help them do their jobs by managing the money they need for certain projects or supplies. What do they need and when do they need it? I make sure funds are invested properly, and make sure they have money when they need it. I watch the budget, manage debt, schedule payments, and figure out how the city can make a project work. Finance also oversees payroll and utility billing, making sure employees are paid and citizens are properly charged for water and sewer services. The variety of functions keeps the job interesting and fun.
Are you interested in learning more about a city career? One great way to get advice is to contact someone in your own city or a city nearby. You can ask questions about the job and learn more about training programs that may be available. Connect to city websites and city contact information through the League of Minnesota Cities.