Michelle Warner is the Finance Officer for the City of Pooler, Georgia. The City of Pooler’s Finance Department is responsible for establishing the annual budget, treasury management, accounts payable, property tax administration, and directing the annual audit procedure. Pooler, located in Chatham County, is one of the fastest growing cities in the state with a current population of approximately 22,250. Located northwest of Savannah along I-95, Pooler has a total area of 30 square miles. Low crime and a small-town community atmosphere with ample shopping establishments and business opportunities have all been factors in Pooler’s explosive growth.
The Path to Pooler
On December 16, 2015, I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Warner about her fascinating journey to Finance Officer. Michelle has had the opportunity to work with communities throughout Georgia, with a stint in South Carolina as the Finance Director of Hardeeville, and it is a pleasure to share her story with you.
In 2000, Michelle received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Specializing in Finance, she had the opportunity to work for the federal government; however, Michelle chose to join the Regional Development Center (RDC) in Augusta, Georgia. In this role, she worked with communities all over the state writing grant proposals and conducting salary studies. Michelle’s time with the RDC was invaluable as she began her career in local government.
Michelle relocated to coastal Georgia in 2006 where she served as the Assistant Administrator for the City of Port Wentworth, then as the Finance Director of Hardeeville, South Carolina. In December 2008, Michelle had the opportunity to become the Finance Officer for the City of Pooler. During this time, the economy tanked, and even the growth in Pooler slowed. The City of Pooler implemented hiring freezes, and Michelle was tasked with implementing other money-saving strategies. Starting as a new employee in an organization is never easy, and Michelle was faced with the additional challenge of reducing expenditures as the city’s new top financial administrator.
Michelle turns challenges into opportunities. Today, with the economy on the upswing and an uptick in development in Pooler, Michelle is working with the Georgia Municipal Association through the Bricks and Mortar Program to build a new City Hall valued at $18 million. Additionally, she is participating in the self-study program offered by the Government Finance Officers Association to attain Certification as a Public Finance Officer (CPFO). Michelle identifies the need for highly trained finance professionals in local government, and she plans to remain on the cutting edge.
The Georgia Chapter of the Government Finance Officers Association thanks you, Michelle, for your leadership, dedication, and valuable contributions to our profession.
This article written by:
GGFOA Communications Committee Co-Chair