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Gustafson taking over as Finance Director

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Tina Gustafson is the new Finance Director for the City of West Fargo, replacing Sharon Schacher who is retiring from her 35-year position effective Sept. 30.

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Gustafson began her duties Sept. 6 and was endorsed in the position by the West Fargo City Commission at their Sept. 19 meeting. She will officially take over Oct. 1.

Originally from Langdon, Gustafson graduated from high school there, and attended the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting in 1988. Following graduation she moved to Fargo where she was employed for a couple of years by a restaurant management firm. She returned to Langdon to marry and raise her family, and was employed as the City Auditor from 1994 to 2010.

After leaving her Langdon post, she relocated to the West Fargo area, most recently employed as a Financial Analyst for Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services in Fargo.

Gustafson said she has always been interested in the community of West Fargo, and was immediately prompted to seek the financial director position when she heard there was an opening.

"I was intrigued by the community and its ongoing growth and change and the progressive and open minded way in which the city was governed," she said.

There was also a point of familiarity - City Administrator Jim Brownlee, who as a state auditor had audited the books in Langdon. "I knew he was the city administrator in West Fargo and I thought he would be a good person to work with," Gustafson said. "I also missed working in government and the community involvement it presented, so I applied and was lucky enough to be offered the position."

In training now for several weeks, Gustafson admits there is a new learning curve. "The software and the mechanics of how city government works are similar, but going from a community of 2,000 to a city with a population over 26,000, and constantly growing, offers a totally different magnitude. I am really looking forward to the challenge of getting a handle on the entire finance system and all the procedures used."

She said staff has been great to work with. "It's even more that what I expected. Everybody is so in tune with what their jobs are. Everybody has been really excellent and they all do an outstanding job. I am amazed at the volume of work Sharon did. Because of her expertise and the excellent programs she implemented through the years, a perfect atmosphere exists that should be conducive to a smooth transformation. My goal is to be an asset to what everybody else already does here."

Gustafson is also a strong believer in being connected and active in the community in which she works. "My intention is to get involved in community activities as soon as I possibly can. In Langdon I was involved in economic development, parks, and beautification and I would to follow that through in West Fargo also. I feel it's important to be a part of the community in order to be in touch with what the community needs are."

Gustafson said another plus is having her son, Brady, attending school in the highly regarded West Fargo School District, as a student at the Ninth Grade Sheyenne Center. Her daughter, Alyssa, 21 is a student at UND.

khuber@westfargopioneer.com

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