Otis Sanford: Why you should care about Collins’ departure

MEMPHIS, Tenn.  — Usually when a top official in city government - other that police director - steps down, it does not generate much public interest. So it's not surprising that the pending departure of Chief Financial Officer Brian Collins is getting little attention around Memphis, but this is a major development.

For one thing, Collins knows Memphis finances as well or better than anyone else currently at City Hall. He has held the top fiscal job since 2012 when he was named finance director by A C Wharton.

Almost immediately, Collins encountered some of the most difficult financial issues in recent city history. The employee pension program was in dire straits and tax revenues continued to fall because of city residents leaving for the suburbs.

Collins weathered the storm and helped to put the pension program on slightly better footing.

When Jim Strickland succeeded Wharton after the 2015 election, the new mayor asked Collins to stay on in the role of chief financial officer.

Memphis seems to be in better financial shape today than it was when Collins first came to City Hall. Now he`s leaving to take over as director of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and Strickland has a major position to fill.

The fact is, the finance job anything but routine. Despite improvements, the financial picture is still tenuous and all Memphis taxpayers should be interested in who comes next.