The City of Covington’s new Finance Director hopes this news isn’t the least read in the City’s history. After all, Steve Webb points out, it is “about the new finance guy.”
To Webb, however, numbers are supremely interesting. And he’s quick to admit that he was always “really good with math,” which is evident in his body of work.
As controller for the Indiana Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services, Webb developed and managed a $1.65 billion budget composed of state, federal, and dedicated funding sources. As a chief financial officer for the Indiana Department of Business and Neighborhood Services, he increased overall department revenues and decreased expenses. And as a senior financial analyst, and financial specialist with the Indiana Public Retirement System, he built an annual budget of $230 million and managed quarterly forecast update processes.
As Covington leaders sought to replace Muhammed Owusu, who retired and returned home to Virginia after four years running the Finance Department, they said Webb’s background stood out.
“Steve has been a great addition to our leadership team,” said Covington City Manager Ken Smith. “His extensive local and state government experience made him an ideal fit for Covington. I look forward to working with him to streamline our operations and to provide even better customer service to our residents and businesses.”
While working with numbers was an obvious choice for Webb, it was his father’s wise counsel that convinced him to use his keen math skills in the employment of state and local governments.
“When I was a kid, my dad always talked about how working in government was such a noble profession,” said Webb. “He said, ‘It’s not where you go to get rich, but they do make a difference.’ Even though I was a kid, that sat in the back of my mind.”
Webb, who was finance director with the Northern Kentucky Area Development District before coming to Covington, brings an eye for efficiencies and modernization to the position.
One of his priorities is to expand an online payment option with limited application (property taxes and waste and stormwater fees) so it can be used for a range of other fees and taxes, such as occupational license fees and the insurance premium tax.
Another priority is to make the City’s budget, audit, and other financial reports more accessible and easy to understand for “lay” people.
“My plan is to continue down the path of transparency for our citizens,” Webb said. “Coming up with a report that you don’t have to be a finance professional to understand as a stakeholder in our city is one of the things that I would like to create.”
As finance director, Webb will implement the strategic activities necessary to accomplish the City’s mission and goals.
He’s responsible for planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and evaluating the activities of the Finance Department. He’ll support financial accounting processes and provide fiscal accountability through coordination, formulation, monitoring, and presentation of budgets.
He’ll also maintain a systematic, disciplined approach to identifying risks and evaluating and improving the effectiveness of the department through financial controls and governance processes.
Webb is well-suited for the task.
“I’m very process-oriented, efficient, always thinking about how we can do things better and quicker,” he said. “I’m that way in my personal life too. I’m the person with all the hangers in the closet facing the same way.”
As he settles into the position, Webb said it’s clear that there is strong leadership at City Hall.
“There are real visionaries, people who excel at what they do,” said Webb. “So many people are playing a role in the boom that’s happening in Covington. It seems like there’s strong leadership across the board, and everyone is working together, pulling in the same direction. That makes a job that’s really hard easy to come in and do every day. I hope I’m adding to that or part of it.”
Outside of the joy of working with numbers, Webb and his wife enjoy travel and have attended games at all of the Major League Baseball stadiums in the country. The couple moved to Northern Kentucky when Webb’s wife received a job offer in Cincinnati. They’ve found the region, particularly Covington, to be a good fit.
“Covington has my ‘feel,’ ” said Webb. “I like the local business vibe.”
And by “local business vibe,” he means “the food.”
“One of the things I do when I travel anywhere is to only eat at places that I can’t get at home,” said Webb. “I like the local business vibe in Covington. Plus, it’s an extremely diverse city and a very walkable city.”
City of Covington