Although only in her second week as Clayton County’s first chief financial officer, Ramona Thurman believes the county’s finances remain relatively good, despite the county’s declining tax revenue base, a situation facing counties and other governmental entities nationwide.
Thurman, a Texas native who came to Clayton County government from the Clayton County Public School System where she served as budget director, has already had one department budget hearing and is scheduling additional hearings.
“Right now, our tax digest is down about four percent,” she said, adding her first meeting with Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner to discuss the county’s 2014 fiscal year budget is scheduled this week.
However, being responsible for taxpayer money and county department budgets were far from Thurman’s mind before she entered high school.
“I had my heart set on being in the medical profession as I loved helping people,” she said.
However, in high school, Thurman was placed in a gifted biology class and her dream of becoming a doctor dissolved when she was asked to dissect an animal “and I found out quickly that I could not stand the sight of blood.”
However, her interests quickly turned to another contributing element of an individual’s overall health, their financial well being.
“I found I also had a love for math and wanted to become an accountant for a major corporation,” Thurman said.
“Little did I know I was going to wind up working for a governmental agency.”
Thurman believes her frequent contacts with county government officials when she was the school system’s budget director has allowed her to “hit the ground running,” in the new position.
A mother of two and grandmother of four, Thurman said although she believes she brings financial expertise to this new county position, one of her greatest attributes is her insistence on transparency in government.
“I am responsible for insuring the financial integrity of Clayton County and making sure taxpayer dollars are being utilized appropriately,” she said.
Thurman believes that, many times, taxpayers may not understand about government “and that is where transparency comes in,’ she added.
“These are hard-earned taxpayer dollars we are talking about,” she said.
“When it comes to public finances, my philosophy is not only making sure our residents and business owners, who pay the taxes, know exactly what their taxpayer dollars are going for and how it will impact them and be available to answer their questions.”