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Erdmann becomes city's chief administration and financial officer

Date: 1/18/2010

Jan. 18, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD - Mayor Domenic Sarno and other city officials formally welcomed Lee Erdmann at a press conference on Jan. 12 as the city's first chief administration and financial officer (CAFO).

The state-mandated position will coordinate and supervise all of the city's financial services and activities.

Sarno described Erdmann as "a gentleman who knows how to crack the whip."

An Army veteran, Erdmann has had a long career in municipal management. His most recent position was that of chief operating officer for the city of Hartford, Conn. He also served as the city manager of Hartford and the town manager of Wethersfield, Conn.

He will be paid $150,000 a year, $30,000 more than Steve Lisauskas, the former executive director of the Finance Control Board who has been the acting CAFO since last July. Lisauskas will be staying with the city for several weeks to ensure a smooth transition. When asked about his future employment plans, he declined to comment.

Commenting on the salary increase, Sarno said, "When you're out there, you have to pay the piper."

Erdmann has a three-year contract with the city. As stipulated by the legislation that created the position, Erdmann will be a resident of the city. He said that he would be moving here within one year.

Erdmann started the job on Jan. 13.

"It's not going to be difficult at all," Erdmann said of the new job. "It's going to be a thorough pleasure to join the Sarno team."

He noted that like Hartford, Springfield "has many challenges." He added he will be "working on getting to know the people of Springfield, getting a handle on the current year's budget and getting into next year's budget process."

One of his prime tasks will be to prepare a four-year financial plan that will use the current budget as a base. He acknowledged that plan "might not be a pretty picture," but he believes there will be improvement toward the end of the period.

"We plan for the worst and hope for the best," he said.

He added, "I have a lot of experience saying 'No.'"

The selection of Erdmann came after a long search for candidates for the CAFO position. Steven Bradley, the vice president of government and community relations and public affairs for Baystate Health, alluded to the "very long process."

That process ended with a stalemate at which time Bradley and his fellow search committee members enlisted the assistance of the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for a national recruitment campaign.

"There is only one person happier than I am today and that's Lee Erdmann," Bradley said with a smile.

Bradley emphasized the selection process had been "non-political and professional." His fellow search committee members included Mary Ellen Scott, the president of United Personnel Management Inc.; Springfield Commissioner of Health and Human Services Helen Caulton-Harris; Stephen Valenti, CPA; City Councilor Timothy Rooke; and Pam Kocher as the representative of the state's Department of Administration and Finance.