Lucas does a little of everything in city financial office
Published 10:15 am Tuesday, April 2, 2019
At the back of Winchester City Hall is the financial office.
It’s where people pay their taxes, get their business licenses and pay their parking tickets, among other things.
All the city’s business runs through that office, including taking in revenue and making payments for the city.
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“We do payroll taxes here. We do property taxes here,” said Winchester Deputy City Treasurer Michelle Lucas. “We collect all the money and we pay all the city’s bills.”
For an entity with an $18 million annual budget and about 170 full-time employees, there is a lot of money running through that office.
“There is a constant influx incoming and outgoing,” she said.
The biggest expenditure is the city’s payroll, she said.
Lucas has worked for the city for about five years, but has always been in the accounting realm.
“When I graduated high school, I wanted to be an attorney,” she said. “I started with my dad’s plumbing business and did his accounting when I was 15 and 16.”
From there, opportunities seemed to keep her in accounting.
“Somehow, it always seemed to pull me in this direction,” she said. “I’ve always worked in the accounting field in accounts payable or accounts receivable.”
Though there are busy seasons, there really is not a slow time, she said.
“Property tax is due in November and December,” she said. “Business license (season) is April and May. Between that, we have the audit, which is several months.”
Budget season is already underway. State law requires the budget to be approved by the city commission by June 30, the last day of the fiscal year.
Lucas said the budget process begins in the middle of February when the city’s department heads submit their budgets to Lucas. Then there are meetings with City Manager Matt Belcher and other meetings. In May, the city commissioners usually have a couple of all-day budget workshop sessions to go through the budget and recommend changes. The commissioners must then approve two readings of the budget by June 30.
Then the cycle starts again.
“We may have a month before they get to the auditors,” Lucas said. “It keeps you busy. There’s not a lot of down time.”