Chicago fills comptroller and deputy CFO posts

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot rounded out her fiscal team by appointing Reshma Soni, a finance professional with city and county experience, as comptroller.

Soni replaces Erin Keane, who officially left Friday.

Soni, whose appointment requires city council approval, fills one of three key city fiscal positions.

Jennie Huang Bennett was previously named chief financial officer, a position under the mayor that does not require city council approval. She replaced Carole Brown. Lightfoot, who took office May 20, previously named Susie Park as budget director and the council has approved that appointment. Park replaced Samantha Fields.

In other fiscal management developments, the city last week promoted Jack Brofman to deputy chief financial officer, a position that deals directly with investors and bankers. He replaces Kelly Flannery, who recently left to take over as CFO of Charlotte, North Carolina. Brofman joined city government nearly three years ago and had served as debt manager, a position responsible for day-to-day management of city debt service payments and Internal Revenue Service and continuing disclosure compliance. He previously was a research analyst at Mesirow.

Brofman will work alongside Bennett and “oversee the debt issuance process as well as continue to strengthen relationships with investors, bankers and rating agencies,” said city finance department spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban. A replacement for the debt manager position has not yet been named.

The comptroller manages city financial reporting and accounting activities.

Soni has been chief financial officer for the Department of Aviation, where she has stewarded the financial operations for a department that manages O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. The department has a $1 billion budget and an $8.5 billion terminal makeover is now underway at O’Hare.

Soni has previously held positions as a deputy budget director for Chicago as well as a compliance manager, and served as Cook County comptroller. The city tapped Soni for her “extensive experience in driving financial improvements for governmental organizations, managing internal cost controls, and optimizing efficiency through creative solutions,” according to a statement.

“Chicago faces significant financial challenges, meaning we must take every measure to identify efficiencies and restore the long-term financial health of our city,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Reshma is an accomplished leader who is ready to implement strong financial controls to ensure quality accounting and reporting practices that will protect investments in our neighborhoods and help our city government work more efficiently for all our residents.”

Chicago must identify hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue or cuts to deal with rising pension, debt, and personnel costs next year and is grappling with a structural deficit as well as ongoing annual hikes in pension contributions. The city has one rating in junk territory and another just one notch away.

Soni said initial priorities include further streamlining of reporting and accounting processes, administering medical benefits active and retired employees and enhancing customer service to support both our residents and the business community.

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