ATLANTA -- Mayor Maynard Jackson of Atlanta has nominated municipal investment banker Michael Bell to be the city's new chief financial officer when the current finance chief, Richard Anderson, leaves next month.
Mr. Bell, a senior vice president of public finance at Kemper Securities Group in Chicago, must now be confirmed by city council, a process that will likely take several weeks, Mayor Jackson's spokesman, Angelo Fuster, said yesterday.
Mr. Fuster said the city council would receive official notification of the mayor's recommendation at its first meeting on Oct. 7, paving the way for confirmation as early as Oct. 21.
"The mayor is very pleased to propose someone who is qualified, knowledgeable and familiar with Atlanta," Mr. Fuster said, noting that Mr. Bell served as financial administrator for Atlanta's aviation department from 1981 to 1983, before becoming an investment banker.
Mr. Fuster said Mr. Anderson has told the mayor he intends to resign to take the job of director of financial services at the Atlanta Regional Commission, a regional planning group, but agreed to stay on as the city's chief financial officer until Oct. 15. He acknowledged that Mr. Anderson had become frustrated with the job because of the competing pressures from the mayor and the city council, both of which must be served by the chief financial officer. Mr. Anderson was not available for comment yesterday.
The mayor's spokesman said he does not expect Mr. Bell to meet resistance from the city council because Mayor Jackson has already consulted with key council members about the upcoming appointment.
"I am excited about being nominated for the position of chief financial officer and look forward to dealing with its many challenges," Mr. Bell said yesterday. "In particular, I look forward to working closely with the city council as well as the mayor," he added.
Atlanta's next finance chief must help the city surmount some difficult hurdles. First, the city must wrestle with an estimated fiscal 1991 operating deficit of $15 million that forced it recently to issue its first public short-term debt issue ever for cash-flow purposes -- $22 million of general fund tax anticipation notes sold in June. The city ended both fiscal 1989 and 1990 with operating deficits, and its fiscal 1990 unreserved fund balance was $23.2 million, down from $31.1 million in 1988.
Atlanta also is preparing to embark on a number of financings, including a controversial $85 million refinancing of the bonds for Underground Atlanta, a recently opened entertainment district in the downtown area. In addition, the city is likely to sell another $100 million of water and sewer revenue bonds before the end of the year.
Mr. Bell had been at Kemper since November 1989, first with the Boettcher & Co. division in Denver and then with Kemper Securities in Chicago. While at Kemper, he specialized in airport finance. He was previously a vice president in municipal finance at C & S Bank in Atlanta since 1983, serving as financial Airport. Between 1981 and 1983, Mr. Bell was with the city's Department of Aviation acting as financial administrator to Hartsfied Altanta International Airport.