Elkins treasurer resigns to be an educator

ELKINS – Elkins officials bid a fond farewell this week to the city’s treasurer, who has resigned to become a college educator.

Lisa Daniels-Smith, who served as treasurer since 2010 and helped put together a plan to bring the city out from under the crippling financial obligations of the Elkins-Randolph County Landfill, will now be a full-time instructor at Davis & Elkins College, specializing in accounting and business classes.

“It’s exciting to start a new position but sad to leave my friends and co-workers,” Daniels-Smith said this week as she was preparing her office for her last day of work on Thursday.

Among other honors, Daniels-Smith is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding CPA in Government Award of the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, which was presented to her during a recent ceremony in Charleston. She said the award demonstrated her office’s commitment to taking care of the taxpayers’ money.

“The better we utilize public funds, the better the savings to the residents,” she said this week.

Daniels-Smith pointed to two “standout accomplishments” during her tenure as city treasurer:

  • Last summer, Elkins received an unqualified opinion in the independent party audit of the city for the fiscal year of 2012, the city’s best results in years.

There are three possible opinions on the city’s finances such an audit can return, Daniels-Smith said: an adverse, or negative, opinion; a qualified, or mixed, opinion, meaning there are multiple problems; or an unqualified, or positive opinion. This was only the fourth unqualified opinion the city had received in an audit during the past 17 years, and the first since the 2006 audit.

  • This year Daniels-Smith worked closely with Mayor Van Broughton to reach out to Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, to find a solution for the Elkins-Randolph County Landfill’s financial morass.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the resulting “landfill bill” – House Bill 4339 – in June at Elkins City Hall. Campbell was the lead sponsor of the bill. The projected savings to the city is in excess of $9 million, Daniels-Smith said this week.

Since the signing, Daniels-Smith has worked with the state Department of Environmental Protection and Public Service Commission to develop an interim plan for the landfill, because the funding allocated by the bill will not be available for another three years. This plan will provide financial support and control of the landfill in the meantime, which will save the city between $300,000 to $400,000 over the next three years, she pointed out.

Daniels-Smith said she has enjoyed working for the city.

“It’s been a life-learning experience to work for Elkins City Council because I consider Council 10 bosses,” she said. “I want to thank City Council for the opportunities to serve our residents. I have created a strong foundation for my successor to build upon.

“Leaving my staff is probably going to be the hardest part, because they have gone with a structure they’ve never known before. I started with two employees and we’ve grown to an office of eight,” she said. “They didn’t always understand why but went forward with blind faith, and after it was said and done they understood why it was done. The team is only as strong as its weakest player, and I had no weak players here.”

Daniels-Smith has been teaching classes since 2008, beginning as an adjunct faculty member at Fairmont State. She has taught part-time at D&E since 2012.

“It’s a very rewarding career to be an educator,” she said. “I do look forward to the unique challenges of educating. They are going to be much different from the business world.”

City administrators sang Daniels-Smith’s praises after her resignation was announced.

“Our city treasurer has done a great job,” Broughton said. “She turned this city around when it was in bad shape.

“I remember going to Charleston with her. I think one Saturday we were there from 9 in the morning until 11 at night, 14 hours. We talked to the governor, we talked to our representatives. We accomplished a lot. I learned a lot from her. She’s the best.”

“She’s done more for this city in the last two years than anybody in this room has in probably a long time,” Councilman Bob Woolwine, chairman of the city’s Finance Committee, said during the Aug. 7 City Council meeting.

“Lisa, thank you for all your hard work and all the long hours,” Councilman Mark Scott said during the

meeting.