GGFOA member Leslie Wilder is the Finance Director for the City of Winder. Winder is a city with a population of nearly 15,000 residents in Barrow County. It is located east of Atlanta and is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
- How long have you been in the position? I have been in this position since April 1, 2005, so a little over 13 years.
- How did you decide to go into local government finance? I believe God has a plan for all of us. When I was 29 years old living near Columbia, SC, my family experienced a great loss when my husband’s cousin, a police officer in Greenville, SC, was killed in the line of duty. While we were in Greenville with our family for the funeral, I found a job opportunity in the newspaper. The job was with a sewer district in Greenville. We decided the best thing to do was move back to be close to our family if I were able to get the job. It was my first job in government finance. Five years later my husband was transferred to Atlanta, and I was hired by the City of Winder.
- What is the best part about being in local government finance? Why? The best part of being in local government finance is that we are part of the entire process. From producing the budget to the entries that are made to the general ledger to our annual audits and financial statements. It is very rewarding to be a part of the entire financial cycle for our local government.
- Describe your organization and department. The City of Winder is located in Barrow County which is between Athens and Atlanta. There are around 15,000 citizens in Winder, and the City provides the typical services like police, fire, water, sewer, and sanitation. The City also has a gas system, a golf course, a community center, and a theater. I am so fortunate to work with an amazing staff. Our team consists of the billing and collections department, the municipal court, and the finance staff.
- What do you love about your community? I love the things that were just in the planning stages when I started my job in Winder have come full circle. The streetscape project, along with private investment in downtown, has really revitalized downtown Winder.
- Describe your annual budget process. In February, we bring all of the departments together for our kickoff meeting. Because we use a zero based budgeting process, all departments are given the task of entering their own detailed budgets into the budget module of our financial package. The finance department handles the revenue projections and then compiles all of the information for the budget document. The City Council Committees review all of the department budget requests and then are presented the completed proposed budget. A public hearing is held to hear any concerns from the citizens of Winder. Once the budget is ready to be approved, the entire City Council takes action to approve the budget by the end of June.
- Tell us something not many people know about you. If you know me, you know I love all things Clemson, however, most people do not know that I was in the marching band at Clemson. When asked what instrument I played, I always respond with “I played the flag!”
- What is your passion outside of the ledger? My passion outside of the ledger is my family. I have two amazing children. My son Will, 17, will be a senior, and my daughter, Perrieanne, 14, will be a freshman. We adopted them from Russia when they were babies, and they are my world. I am truly blessed to be their mom!!
This article written by:
Ramona Carver, Communications Committee GGFOA