Patti-Lynn Ryan, the town's new director of finance and treasurer, worked for the accounting firm of McGladrey & Pullen for several years as a senior auditor before going to work for the town of Stratford seven years ago.

While she was auditing cities and towns around Connecticut, Ryan worked long days and noticed that many town governments didn't have much office furniture or accounting software.

"They didn't have technology or competency, and needed people with a strong accounting background," Ryan said. "I went into Stratford as my first full-time municipal job. It was a different pace."

"You can't just go buy what you need," she said. "Most towns, a lot of towns, do their books on paper. And it's a different mindset; it's not corporate. In public accounting, there, people worked 12-hour days, and you don't go home until your boss tells you to."

Her mentor, Judy Doneiko, the finance director in Milford, encountered a similar change when she left public accounting to go work for a municipality 20 years ago. She spoke highly of Ryan.

"I found her to be a quick learner," Doneiko said. "Her accounting skills are strong; she's sensitive to the taxpayers. She also has learned how to properly work with unionized personnel."

Ryan rose from working as a finance project manager to assistant finance director to acting director of finance. The town of Stratford changed its form of government in December, and she applied for the opening in Cheshire soon afterward. She's pleased to find that Cheshire has few big crises.

"Here, it's not been boring at all," she said. "There's four union contracts, the police, dispatchers, Town Hall, and Public Works. I'm doing those. That's my entire month of May. I spent the first month seeing what's working. The finances are in great shape. The schools are new. I knew there would be challenges, but not as bad as Stratford."

Ryan started March 27 as finance director. Town Manager Michael Milone said in a statement then that she was starting "at a time where there are many initiatives and projects that will require her immediate attention." One, he noted, is changing the town to new accounting software. She said recently she was happy the money has already been approved, and she can start issuing a request for proposals soon.

"Ms. Ryan has demonstrated her ability in financial software project and systems management, debt management, bond issuance, pension investment and administration, supervision of assessment, collection and purchasing, risk management and insurance, labor negotiations and grievance handling, all areas in which she will have duties and responsibilities," Milone wrote.

Ryan will also be working on trying to get the town's bond rating upgraded. She said the town is in good shape, and bond rating company Moody's is too stringent on how much of a rainy day fund towns should have, and how much debt as a percent of their budget. She said Cheshire has been fiscally prudent in pre-funding certain expenses, which Moody's doesn't give it credit for.

Ryan is married and she and her husband, Jay, have four children. Three are in middle school and one recently started college. In their free time, the Ryans like to go hiking and climb indoor rock walls.

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