Jane Saurman started this week as assistant city clerk/treasurer/director of finance for the City of Hastings.
“I was looking for something more than just a job, I was looking for a team, more than a position…It’s awesome when you get the perfect job and the perfect staff. After the first interview, I was sure I had found it. Personally, I’m a collaborator.”
“I love Hastings. My girls were in Jazz Fest; we’d come to town, wander the streets. It’s a nice town that needs to more publicity to show it off.” Saurman said she feels welcomed by the Hastings city team; she has connections to City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Police Chief Jeff Pratt and Clerk/Treasurer Jerry Czarnecki, either through family members, professional contacts or college. She plans to end her career here.
She is friendly, open, smiles often and seems relaxed stepping into a job about as complicated as it gets, clerk/treasurer/director of finance, likely because she has an extensive background in all the facets of her new position.
Not intimidated by the stacks of papers piled high where she is working at Clerk/Treasurer/Director of Finance Jerry Czarnecki’s desk and overflowing on the tables behind her, she smiles and said she will develop her own style of document management as she goes.
A West Michigan native, Saurman comes from a family where her mother and father directed their children’s education in math and computer skills to possible careers. Father was a teacher; mother a stay-at-home mom who opened her own business when the children went out on their own.
Her husband, Phillip, is a CPA. Four children; two girls, two boys, all college graduates, complete their family.
A governmental auditor for municipalities and schools for 25 years, she said the first task this week is for her, Czarnecki and the staff, to fill out a single-spaced page and a half of questions from the city auditor. The process is easier if you give the auditors complete answers to all of their questions, meaning there will be no follow up questions to be answered, she said. With her knowledge and confidence with audits, her coming in this week, “diffused any stress for the financial staff,” she said.
Her focus when dealing with taxpayer dollars is simple. “My philosophy is to protect it, it’s their money. I consider myself to be a good steward of taxpayer’s money; I try to improve office procedures to save money, maximize the dollars… get the biggest bang for the buck.”
She earned degrees in business administration from Grand Rapids Community College and Lake Superior State University. Her first position was as treasurer of the City of Kentwood. For seven years, she was Firm Administrator and Governmental Auditor in her husband’s firm before becoming a Senior Governmental Consultant at Hungerford Nichols CPA & Advisors from 1998 to 2017.
From 2017 to now, she was Chief Financial officer for Kent District Library. A member of several state and local financial associations, she also holds offices in several community organizations.
According to the timetable on a letter of agreement with the city, Saurman will be Assistant Clerk/Treasurer/Director of Finance until January 14, 2019, when she is expected to become the Clerk/Treasurer/Director of Finance.
On the same day, Czarnecki, will be appointed Deputy City Manager/Special Project Coordinator and will work with City Manager Jeff Mansfield until his resignation, effective June 30, when Czarnecki will become Hastings City Manager.
Photo: Assistant Clerk/Treasurer/Director of Finance Jane Saurman