Miami’s chief financial officer ousted; replaced by budget director

 

msanchez@elnuevoherald.com

Miami City Manager Johnny Martínez fired his chief financial officer, Janice Larned, this week. Her termination is effective Friday.

Martinez has chosen the city’s budget director, Daniel Alfonso, to be her replacement.

Larned, who was hired in December 2011, said she would have liked to stay with the City of Miami but respects the manager’s decision.

“I like the city, and I believe there are a lot of opportunities here, but let’s not confuse this with my professional career or my credibility,” Larned said. “This has to do with the direction the manager wants to take the city.”

Several weeks ago, Larned had advised the city manager that she’d accepted a new job elsewhere. Martinez then asked her if she could stay at least until the city had finished its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), which was finally completed on June 18.

This week, when Martinez approached Larned to thank her for her service and begin the formal resignation process, she told him she wanted to keep her job. But Martinez, who had already found her replacement, pressed for Larned’s resignation. When she refused to resign, Martinez terminated her.

On Thursday, Martinez said he was grateful to Larned for her work. As financial chief, she reported directly to him and oversaw the Finance, Purchasing and Risk Management departments.

“She filled a lot of key positions in the Finance Deparment, and the CAFR we just completed was much better than last year’s,” Martinez said. “Thanks to Janice, we’ve been able to really improve the department.”

For months, the Finance Department had been a black eye in the city, due to high vacancies and turnover. Larned, too, received criticism after apparently threatening to quit last August in the middle of contract negotiations with the city’s unions. City leaders talked her into staying.

Then, the Finance Department director, Stephen Petty, quit after it was revealed that he wasn’t qualified to the job because he wasn’t a licensed CPA. Blogger Al Crespo had also documented how Petty is related to a former business associate of Larned, who helped him get the job.

After leaving that job vacant for a several months, Martínez recently named Jose Fernandez as the new director of the Finance Department. Fernandez had previously worked in Miami Dade County as the port control and was briefly “on loan” to the City earlier this year to help put together the CAFR.

“It seems like the manager is making the changes he believes are necessary to have a strong Finance Department,” said commissioner Frank Carollo. “I hope they review all levels, and consider partnering up with the local colleges for entry-level staff that, over the years, can be mentored in the Finance Department.”

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said he was pleased with Martinez’s choice to promote Alfonso to the job of CFO.

“Danny Alfonso has the trust of all of the commissioners,” he said. “He answers our questions quickly and is very diligent.”

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