Three years after then-interim Rohnert Park City Manager Dan Schwarz left to run City Hall in the city of Larkspur in Marin, Rohnert Park Finance Director Cathy Orme is joining him.
Orme, who became Rohnert Park’s interim finance director in October 2011 in the wake of the controversial departure of longtime director Sandy Lipitz, was officially hired as finance director in May 2012. She has been with Rohnert Park for nearly six years.
“She’s been a great employee – it’s a great opportunity for her to go to Larkspur and work with Dan,” said Assistant City Manager Darrin Jenkins. “He recruited her.”
Orme’s last day in Rohnert Park is Sept. 20. She starts in Larkspur 10 days later. Jenkins said that Ana Kwong, an accounting supervisor in the city’s finance department, will serve as interim finance director.
“We’re going to begin recruiting for the position of finance director right away,” Jenkins said.
Orme, who was born in Fremont and has lived most of her life in Northern California, lives in Santa Rosa with her husband “and a horse and a cat,” though she is considering a move down to Marin. She began her career in the finance department in the city of Healdsburg.
“I give a lot of credit to City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez,” she said. “He’s done a tremendous job of leading the city to a better financial place. And I’ve very much appreciated the opportunity I’ve had here.”
During Orme’s tenure in Rohnert Park’s finance department, the city cut its deficit of about $6 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year to about $1.4 million in 2013-2014.
“We’ve cut quite a lot,” Jenkins said.
In June, the City Council declared a fiscal emergency, part of a buildup to putting a measure on the Nov. 5 ballot that will ask voters to make the sales tax hike they resoundingly approved three years earlier to maintain city services in the face of a then-$5 million deficit.
At its Sept. 10 meeting, the City Council approved a new contract with the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers’ Association, essentially rolling over existing terms and not reducing any costs related to pensions and benefits.
Schwarz left for Larkspur in May 2010 after four years in Rohnert Park as assistant city manager. He had been promoted to interim city manager in October 2008 when City Manager Steve Donley left for active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard.