Meet a hero of 21st Century LocalGov, Rodney Rhoades
Rodney Rhoades has served his fellow Texans in various finance roles for more than 25 years. Since 2011, he has led the city of McKinney’s finance department as Finance Director. Under his leadership, the McKinney Finance Department has won an award for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) each year, an accomplishment the department has achieved for the past thirty consecutive years. Mr. Rhoades was also integral in Money Magazine’s designation of McKinney as the “#1 place to live in America” — an achievement made possible in large part because of strong economic planning, a balanced budget, and effective public services.
Before becoming McKinney’s Finance Director, Mr. Rhoades served as the Director of Budget, Finance and Operation for Collin County, TX between 2000 and 2008. Mr. Rhoades has also worked in the finance departments at the cities of Grand Prairie and Garland.
Mr. Rhoades earned his Master’s degree in Government Affairs from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
We asked Mr. Rhoades to discuss his career in government finance, his recent partnership with OpenGov, and his perspectives on the future of public finance. Here’s what he had to say.
OG: You have over 25 years of experience in government finance at both the city and county level. What drives your passion for government finance?
RR: I think the thing that drives me the most is knowing that if the job is done well, the entire community benefits. The work we do is not visible to the citizens like Public Works or Police services. However, more visible departments couldn’t do their jobs without us behind the scenes. It is team effort.
OG: What are the main differences between working in a county finance office and working in a city finance office?
RR: City finances are all-inclusive in that, for Texas Counties, there is an Auditor that handles some of the finances. In municipalities, we handle everything from Purchasing to Budget and all the accounting and payroll functions. This enables us to better coordinate services to ensure that customers are getting the same information and services that achieve organizational goals.
OG: What is the most rewarding thing about being McKinney’s CFO?
RR: I think the most rewarding part of my job is witnessing the transformation of the Financial Services divisions since I came to McKinney in 2011. I often say that we are a well-oiled machine and find it rewarding when our constituents comment on the differences in the department’s services.
OG: What is the most challenging part of your job?
RR: Ensuring that all departments understand the goals of the organization and how we all must work toward accomplishing those goals.
OG: How did these efforts spark your interest in OpenGov?
RR: I had been looking for a platform that could present useful information in a way that people not trained in fund accounting can understand. It has been my experience that people tend to glaze over when presented with a lot of numbers. However, if you can put information in a graphical format that people can slice and dice, it becomes more useful.
OG: How has OpenGov enabled you and your finance team do your jobs better?
RR: We are now able to generate meaningful reports in a matter of hours versus days.
OG: What is one thing about working in municipal finance that people may not know but would find interesting?
RR: You get to see all facets of the organization’s operations. Unlike working for a corporation that produces things, municipal governments — especially municipal finance departments — can do public safety in the morning and economic development in the afternoon. You never get bored.
OG: You’ve been in the government finance for over 25 years. What has been the biggest transformation in the industry in that time period?
RR: I think the emphasis on transparency has transformed the industry. I have always been a big fan of performance budgeting as a means of resource allocation but transparency of both financial and statistical information is probably one of the most noticeable transformations.
OG: What do you think is going to be the next big transformation?
RR: I see the next big transformation as the recognition of how transparency and performance go hand in hand. I think once those who desire the information begin to dissect it and start asking even more questions, there will be a push to better justify expenditures.
Visit McKinney’s budget platform at mckinneytexas.opengov.com
Category: Customer Story