Chris Pike, Dunwoody’s first and so far only finance director, is stepping down from the job to take a new one in the private sector and just as the city takes on the large task of planning next year’s budget. The budget process is not expected to be affected, however, according to city officials.
Pike, who was brought on shortly after the city incorporated in December 2008, turned in his resignation to City Manager Eric Linton on June 21. Pike said his last day is July 5 and he would assist the city during his final two weeks to find a replacement, according to the letter.
“I’ve greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities, experiences and growth I’ve had over the past 10 years, all of which I will take with me throughout my career,” Pike wrote in his resignation. “I have loved every moment serving the various councilmembers and a piece of my heart will remain with the citizens of this community.”
In an email, Pike said he is taking a new job in Alpharetta where he will be creating and overseeing a team of IT professionals working in software development for governments. The new job allows him to be closer to his family in Forsyth County, he said.
“[H]elping with Dunwoody’s formation and that first half of my 10 years with Dunwoody was by far the greatest experience in my career,” he said.
“Unfortunately, being a professional in government often means you have to move on in order to move up. That was the case here; staying in Dunwoody meant never advancing from my current role,” he said.
A search for a new finance director is underway. Pike’s information under the Finance page has already been wiped from the city’s website and a job announcement for a new finance director is listed under job openings. Pike remains listed under the city’s 2017 comprehensive annual financial report on the website.
“We’re grateful for Chris Pike’s 10 years of service to the city of Dunwoody as finance director, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said in a written statement.
Boettcher said Linton was not surprised by Pike’s resignation. No timeline has been set for hiring a new finance director.
Pike’s resignation comes as the city heads into its annual budget process at the end of June and into July with a final City Council vote to pass the budget expected sometime in the fall, traditionally in October.
Boettcher said planning next year’s budget is currently in the early stages with department heads still putting together their requests. Pike’s resignation is not expected to interrupt the process, she said.
Although Linton was not surprised by Pike’s resignation, Mayor Denis Shortal he was “somewhat” surprised and learned of the resignation from Pike on June 21 while attending one of Pike’s classes at the Georgia Municipal Association Conference held in Savannah.
“Nothing totally surprises me, but if you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have no idea he was leaving,” Shortal said.
He praised Pike’s work for the city and said the team Pike left in place is more than capable of planning and drafting next year’s city budget.
“He’s decided to go in another direction. You can’t fault someone … who wants to better themselves,” Shortal said. “I wish him well on whatever future endeavor he takes on.
“The budget process will go on; I don’t see any problems with the budget process,” Shortal added.
Councilmember Terry Nall also praised Pike and said he is a respected finance officer not only in the city but throughout the state and with the Government Finance Officers Association, an organization for public finance officials in the U.S. and Canada. In March, the GFOA awarded Dunwoody its 9th annual Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
Moving into the private sector “is a natural progression for him with the extreme talent he has,” Nall said.
“We will miss him in Dunwoody, but the last thing we want to do is stand in the way of a career opportunity,” he said.
Pike raised some eyebrows last year in a memo to the mayor and council warning them that the city was at a “crossroad” as it takes on more capital projects but with no specific plans in place to pay for operations and maintenance.
“It would be unwise and impractical to continue on pace with capital projects without knowing how we will maintain them in the years to come,” Pike said in the 2018 memo.
The city late last year approved spending $7.5 million to build two athletic fields, a band shell and other major renovations at Brook Run Park. Plans are to include sports programming at the artificial turf fields and for live entertainment to perform at the band shell, but what those plans look and how they will be paid for is not yet known. The fields are expected to be finished early next year.
In his email, Pike said his decision to leave Dunwoody “had nothing to do with that memo” nor was he “nudged” out of his job by anyone.
Nall said Pike’s memo from last year was him just doing his job – alerting the City Council that every dollar the city spends on capital projects is also a hit to the operations budget. “He was just reminding us that with every decision we make on capital projects as implications on the operating budget as well,” he said.
Shortal also said Pike’s “crossroad” memo was just a reminder of what he and the council members understand, that building new facilities such means finding money to maintain them as well.
“As we add capital, you have to remember to have funds to support those items,” he said. “And we do consider that.”