Liz Farmer is a GOVERNING finance writer.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C.’s longtime Chief Financial Officer announced his retirement Friday, just days after the city reported one of its largest budget surpluses in recent memory.
In a letter reported by The Washington Examiner, CFO Natwar Gandhi told Mayor Vincent Gray that the decision was not an easy one for him. Gandhi, who took the post in 2000, was recently reappointed to another five-year term.
“I feel comfortable retiring at this time because the city is in excellent financial condition, perhaps the best in its history,” the 72-year-old wrote.
On Tuesday, the District announced a $417 million budget surplus from its 2012 fiscal year ending Sept. 30. By law, the money was deposited into the city’s general fund balance, bringing it up to $1.5 billion, or 16.5 percent of the District’s budget.
Still, the last year has been a rocky one for the city’s CFO. He has faced criticism from lawmakers for his practice of lowballing revenue projections, a series of Washington Post stories raised concerns about property reassessments made within his office, and last fall the Securities and Exchange Commission launched in informal inquiry into audits handled by his office.
Overall, Gandhi’s tenure has been marked as one that took the city’s finances from a state of chaos and disarray to a position that Gray often says is the envy of other U.S. cities. Gandhi took over the city’s finances in 2000 when the Nation’s Capital was still under the auspices of the financial control board appointed by Congress after D.C. ran out of money and its rating hit junk bond status.
The control board went into dormancy after 2001 and today, the city has boasted more than a decade of balanced budgets. In 2007, Governing named Gandhi its Public Official of the Year.