Grantwood Village appoints new volunteer budget director

By Kari Williams

Grantwood Village’s budget director position will continue as a volunteer position.

Resident Ed Balmes accepted the position vacated by Joe Forand in April.

Forand, husband of former Board of Trustees Chairwoman Cathy Forand, resigned from the position after the April election, in which Will Larson and Walter Rust were elected trustees over Pat Williams and incumbent Cathy Forand.

Board Chairman Mark Kienstra told the Call Balmes is a certified public accountant who lives in the village.

“He has a very strong background, having been (chief financial officer) of a firm or two … His credentials are just impeccable,” Kienstra said.

Balmes is a partner with Meyer, Balmes and Associates in Chesterfield and a 1981 graduate of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he received a master’s degree in accounting. He has also been a member of the Forest Haven Association in Grantwood Village.

Balmes said he looks forward to helping the village and its trustees, who are “doing a lot of the work.”

“(Budget director is) a much smaller role compared to what they (the trustees) do, and they needed some help so I agreed to help out,” Balmes said, “and I think Joe Forand did a great job. I just want to carry on from where he was.”

Kienstra said the village wanted to find someone with a strong, professional background in finance to fill the budget director position.

“… This is a municipality, so the standards are a bit higher than if it were just a swim club or a school organization or maybe a church group,” Kienstra said. “So it’s important to us to find someone who was a finance professional, if the person was available.”

Balmes said he does not expect a difficult transition to the position.

“I’m familiar with Excel and Quickbooks, and I think (Joe Forand) has a system set up that’s worked well …,” Balmes said. “I’m confident if I have any questions Joe and Mark (Kienstra) will be able to help me.”

Village trustees, according to Kienstra, reached out to residents — about a dozen people — who would have the skill set and time to contribute as budget director.

If the village would not have found someone to volunteer as budget director, it would have had to begin paying for the service. Kienstra said the option of making the budget director position paid was “always on the table.”

“You don’t know how close you’ve come until you’ve talked to the couple of people who are most qualified,” he said, “and if we had not been able to find a volunteer within the village … we would have gladly paid someone because the budget officer is required by ordinance, and it’s an important position for our village.”

Kienstra said village officials look to present a budget, which he has been working on, at the June board meeting. One item that gives the village’s budget stability, according to Kienstra, is its recent approval of a three-year contract with St. Louis County for police services.

“(Having a multi-year contract) … really gives tremendous stability to our budget,” Kienstra said. “It’s one of the tools that would excite a new budget director, knowing that our number one expense will be very stable over the next three years.”