Member Spotlight: Vita Dotson

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1. What is your current job title? Budget Supervisor in the Gwinnett County Financial Services Department

2. How long have you been in the position? Since 2016

3. How did you decide to go into local government finance? I earned a degree in Business Administration and have always wanted to work with numbers. There are many occupations that involve numbers, but government finance gives a sense of community involvement in addition to working with numbers. That was important to me. I was excited to apply for a financial analyst’s position in Gwinnett County in 2014 where I soon discovered how fun and strangely satisfying budget balancing was.

4. What is the best part about being in local government finance? Why? I appreciate government finance because it is a service-driven occupation compared to the often profit-driven private sector. Although both can be exciting, local government finance allows us to see how decisions impact our community through various projects and routine activities. Some long-term projects impact future generations making the planning process quite rewarding for all who contribute. I enjoy being part of various internal and external collaborations just as much as I enjoy reading the story from the numbers.

5. Describe your organization and department. Gwinnett County Government is a local entity that provides services, such as police, fire, emergency medical, solid waste, parks and recreation, water, sewer, stormwater, road construction and maintenance, and court-related functions to more than 900k residents. It strives to be a leader among other local governments by delivering superior services in partnership with the community. It has a history of sustainable, conservative budgeting practices and is committed to prudent financial planning. For fiscal year 2020, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners adopted $1.84 billion budget.

The Department of Financial Services oversees the financial operations of Gwinnett County in compliance with state and federal laws, ensuring fiscal responsibility and superior bond ratings. There are eight divisions in the Finance Department: Accounting, Budget, Grants, Purchasing, Tax Assessor, Treasury, Standards and Controls, and Strategy and Performance Management. Department functions include, but are not limited to: financial record administration, budget administration and preparation, grant management and oversight, cash and investment management, vendor and employee payment, debt issuance and monitoring management, self-insurance and liability programs management, procurement and contracts operations management, tax assessor administration, and strategic program design and deployment.

For more information about Gwinnett County Government and the Department of Financial Services, please visit our website: www.gwinnettcounty.com.

6. What do you love about your community? I love Gwinnett County for its diversity. There is an international community, and I am one of its members who found home among the locals. I love the family-oriented environment and kindness present within the community.

7. Describe your annual budget process. Gwinnett County's budget cycle starts in January. County’s leadership meets for an annual strategic planning session. Meanwhile, departmental budget planning begins early in the year, before an annual Budget Kick-off meeting. Each department and agency submit their capital and operating budget proposals to the Finance Department where those are vetted and compiled into a combined binder to be shared with the Chairman’s Citizen Review Team. Department and agency leaders present their budget proposals to the Chairman’s Citizen Review Team for their consideration in the month of August. For transparency, recordings of all presentations are available to be viewed on the County’s website the next day. The Citizen Review Team is a small group of citizens from various walks of life who represent the local community in the County’s proposed budget review process. The team members have an opportunity to ask questions and provide honest feedback regarding submitted budget proposals. Later the Chairman and Board of Commissioners get to review the Citizen Review Team’s recommended budget individually and address concerns with the Finance Department and the Chairman before its adoption. The latest budget proposal is summarized in the resolution, advertised, and presented in a public hearing to the citizens. When all requested changes are weighted, discussed, and incorporated into the budget, it is balanced and presented for adoption by the Chairman on the first Tuesday in January at the Board of Commissioner meeting.

8. Tell us something not many people know about you. I have won a 5k race among the women.

9. What is your passion outside of the ledger? Continuous personal growth. I enjoy health and wellness topics and helping others with their fitness and wellness goals.

Submitted by:
Amy Bennett
GGFOA Communications Committee

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