After six months without a finance director, the City Council unanimously approved Thomas Zidelis, 58, for the position Thursday evening during a special meeting. Zidelis, Mayor Ken Hopkins choice …
After six months without a finance director, the City Council unanimously approved Thomas Zidelis, 58, for the position Thursday evening during a special meeting. Zidelis, Mayor Ken Hopkins choice for the post, will assume the position previously held by Robert Strom who retired in spring of 2022; the administration is working with Zidelis on determining a start date.
“There’s an age-old expression that good things happen to those who wait. Well, I think that expression is appropriate this evening,” said Chief of Staff Anthony Moretti, who presented Zidelis before the council.
Zidelis’s appointment comes after the council voted 5 to 3 on April 7 to deny advice and consent for finance director candidate Robert Zarnetske. Council members’ concerns about Zarnetske came from him not being an accountant, not serving as a CFO and resigning from his position as town manager of South Kingstown in 2021.
On Friday, Moretti said that since April, the city has received a handful of applicants for the finance position, but the administration felt that virtually none of the applicants matched the requirements. He cited Zidelis as a godsend.
Zidelis resides in Douglas, Massachusetts, and served as the former Chief Financial Officer, City Treasurer and Collector of Taxes for the City of Worcester. He has significant experience handling funding from the federal, state and local levels as well as being heavily involved in the audit process.
According to Worcester’s Telegram and Gazette, Zidelis returned to City Hall and was given two specific tasks: assist the city administration getting through the recession and financially strengthen the city’s position – short-term and long-term. In 2020, he left the CFO position after 12 years and, since then, has worked in municipal consulting. Zidelis spent three decades engaging in aspects of municipal finance and added that the City of Worcester is in a better position than it was 14 years ago.
Zidelis improved the city’s fiscal health by amending the City of Worcester’s long-term financial plan while navigating its financial position to the highest level of reserves in their history. He has helped obtain four bond rating upgrades and helped facilitate every urban renewal district improvement financing.
Moretti said Zidelis checks all the boxes for the position – describing him as solid in terms of experience, intelligence and know-how.
“He’s received tons of accolades from both city and community officials singing his praise,” Moretti said. “Let’s face it; he must be pretty good at what he does because he was able to steal the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester.
When asked what goals he’d like to achieve, Zidelis stated the following: “My goals are dictated by the mayor and the council, so I don’t set goals. I get direction and achieve goals.
On Monday, Zidelis spoke about what drew him to the finance position in Cranston.
“Cranston is a city that has so much going on right now and so much potential,” said Zidelis.
He added that Worcester went through its own renaissance and Cranston is poised for just that.
“It’s exciting to be part of a renaissance in Cranston and all that they’re doing,” Zidelis said.
Zidelis added that moving the city forward financially is the goal of any CFO. When challenges present themselves, he will be present to answer the council and administration’s questions and help with the situation’s navigation.
“The Mayor feels Tom is the right person, at the right time, for the right job,” Moretti said.
In Worcester, Zidelis also had experience working with the school department’s finance director. The two would meet once or twice a month since municipalities are known by how good their schools are.
“I’m extremely happy you’ve held many hats over many years…and have seen it all,” said Council President Chris Paplauskas. “That experience and knowledge you’re bringing here is really important not only to us on the council but the entire city.”
Councilwoman Jessica Marino added she was glad to see that, with Zidelis’ resume and Worcester having a larger budget than Cranston’s budget, she’s hopeful that Zidelis is well-suited for this position.
Councilman Robert Ferri told Zidelis the council is looking for transparency and to have their questions answered. He added that the audit committee which the council formed years ago recently started meeting again and inquired if Zidelis would be willing to sit in on the audit committee meetings which he agreed to.
The salary for Cranston’s Finance Director is $135,900 which was increased in this FY2022 budget from $108,558.70.
“We look forward to having a new person take a fresh, objective look at the way we do business in Cranston and welcome any recommendations to improve the quality of our financial condition,” Moretti said.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here