Since the passing of former Administrative Services Director Doug Bradley in 2017, the position of finance manager for the City of Imperial Beach had been vacant. City Manger Andy Hall and Deputy City Manager Erika Cortez and staff performed the job in the interim and consultants were also hired.
Two months ago the position was filled with Joann Gitmed coming on board as finance manager. She was recruited by Cortez while working with the consulting firm hired by the city. Due to the pandemic, Gitmed has worked one month from home and for the past month from City Hall.
Gitmed, who was born and raised in Orange County, studied economics with an emphasis in accounting at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Gitmed said she fell into the field of government accounting when she was hired by the City of Big Bear Lake. Her career has taken her to jobs at other cities, including Diamond Bar, Yorba Linda Water District, City of Eastvale, and La Puente.
Gitmed is happy to have joined the staff at the City of Imperial Beach. “I enjoy the staff and the people. They are such a wonderful team,” she said of her co-workers.
Prior to being hired by Imperial Beach, Gitmed had worked for the consulting firm hired by the city of Imperial Beach for eight months. “I had a chance to see what the situation was… leadership had been lacking, since accounting is a specialized niche, and is not black and white,” she said.
During council meetings some items on the budget had not been tracked properly. How some items are classified is a specialty in itself and with regular oversight, a finance director would have caught that right away.
“It was a challenge in that aspect,” she said. “There are still things to look at. But it’s the fun of the job, I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and digging in.”
Gitmed is a career oriented professional who has accumulated over 25 years in government accounting only taking time off to raise her two, now grown, children. She is also an outdoor person. “I love being so close to the beach, I enjoy golfing and anything that gets me outdoors. I used to be an avid softball player,” she said.
Gitmed admits she was always a math type person. She enjoyed the accounting class she took in high school which led her to continue in the field. “I couldn’t tell you what attracted me. Numbers add up. I like knowing they are a constant. Government accounting is fun. I have all these different funding sources, [I like] how you get creative, finding funding sources,” she explained.
When she worked as a consultant for a firm based in Rancho Cucamonga, Gitmed came to Imperial Beach once or twice a month. “I was gun shy to work for a city again, but I fell in love with the staff and the city,” she said.
Gitmed was hired shortly before the lockdown, then she was told “don’t bother coming in, we just went into lockdown.” She still has not had the chance to meet some of staff face to face since many meetings are held via zoom. Her staff consists of five full-time and one part-time employees. “I look forward to see and interact with my staff, develop a relationship with them,” she said. “I’m a very face to face person and prefer the contact with people, reading body language and expressions.”
Although she thought she did not want to work for a government any longer, during her time as a consultant, she became convinced Imperial Beach was the right fit for her. “As I got to know the area and the people, I felt I couldn’t push it any longer. It felt like it was the right choice and the place to spend time in my career. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been in government work for over 25 years,” she said.