Chief Financial Officer Joan Ford tells council: 'This will be my last budget'

By Pepper Parr

November 28th, 2023



It was going to happen at some point and I suppose it made sense to do so at the point where a very difficult budget was passed by City Council.

As the meeting was nearing the end City Manager Tim Commisso indicated that he wanted to say a few words – but a Council member asked, on a point of order, if that was appropriate.  Why a Council member who lives in one ward and represents a different ward would take such a position was beyond most council members.

Council was forced to hold a vote that required a three quarters of the council members to vote for it.  That passed and Commisso got to speak.

Joan Ford: Thinking through questions when Staff used to hold “budget bazaars”

He thanked Staff, was generous in his praise and said he wanted CFO Joan Ford to have the last word.

Joan, taking part virtually thanked her staff, naming each Team Leader and the individual staff members and then added: “this will be my last budget.”

I don’t know how man years Joan has been the CFO.  When I first met her she was in the Finance department.  The City had decided to part ways with the City Treasurer at the time and Joan was put in place, realizing very quickly that many of her staff we a lot smarter than she was.

Jeff Fielding was the city manager at the time and he worked with Joan to get her into a classroom and earn a designation that would qualify her more clearly for the job.

There was never any question is as to whether or not she could do the job – she was doing it.

I’ve forgotten how long it took for her to earn the designation, don’t recall what the designation was.  Do recall the conversations we have over how hard she was finding the studying.

There were evening classes and the once a month weekend session when her staff, several who were half her age,  would work with her on the assignments and get the course material completed.

When she had earned the designation she showed me the scroll that graduates are given.  It was rolled up with an elastic around it.

“When are you going to have it framed” I asked.  It looked is as if she wasn’t going to frame it and hang it up in her office.

I think Jeff Fielding arranged to have it framed and put up in her office.

Then Director of Finance Joan Ford.

Joan Ford has served Burlington very well.

Several of the delegations complained about the 775 page plus budget binder that was prepared this year.  Joan didn’t create that process – she did build on what came before her.

There will be significant changes made in the budget process – those tasks will be carried out by team Joan Ford mentored and grew.

Using the occasion to give Joan a Round of Applause the Mayor had to once again ask for a vote.

They never make it easy.

No word on exactly when Joan will leave her office – it is a well-earned retirement.


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