They’ll be missed

Published 7:32 pm Friday, April 25, 2008

By Staff
At the end of April, Washington’s city government will lose two key employees, Rita Thompson and Carol Williams.
More than losing two longtime employees, the city will be losing a lot of institutional memory — 64 years’ worth to be exact.
Thompson is retiring as assistant to the city manager and city clerk. Williams is retiring as finance director and tax collector.
Numerous council members, city managers, mayor, department heads and the public have relied on Thompson’s experience — 32 years with the city — and her knowledge as an encyclopedia of Washington facts.
Those same people have relied on Williams, who also has 32 years with the city, to provide them with information about the city’s finances, which she could provide in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
These two care about the city. Their years of service to Washington and its residents are evidence of that. But their caring goes beyond their combined 64 years of employment with the city. Although they never cast a vote during a City Council meeting, they made sure council members and mayors were supplied with the information needed to make informed decisions about city business. Whenever faced with inquiries and requests from the media, they handled those items with speed and accuracy.
During her years with the city, Thompson strived to improve her work-place skills.
In 1989, Thompson became a certified municipal clerk. Currently, she’s studying and working to obtain her master municipal clerk certification through the Master Municipal Clerk Academy conducted by the Institute of Government, an arm of the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After retirement, she plans to remain a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.
Williams’ influence over the city’s finances and budgeting process is evident in the city receiving awards for its comprehensive annual financial reports. The first award, presented by the Government Finance Officers Association, came in 1996. Since then, the city has received the award each year.
Over the years, council members would ask Williams to go to her money tree and obtain the money for particular projects. They knew if there were a source of revenue for a project, Williams would find it. They also knew if there were no money for a project, she would tell them that.
Williams watched over the city’s coffers like a hen watching over her eggs, then her chicks. Over the years, auditors have remarked how pleasurable it was to work with Williams and her staff. That says a great deal about Williams and her approach to keeping an eye on the city’s finances.
Although Washington will be losing two valued and respected employees, their imprints on the city will remain. Much of their work was of the behind-the-scenes type, with the public rarely getting a true understanding of what they’ve done for the city.
Thompson and Williams helped bring the city into the 21st century. They are leaving the city in a better position to serve its residents than it was when they began working for the city.
With their retirements, Washington is losing part of its heart and soul.