March 25, 2022

In the public eye: Keach keeps watchful eye on Raymond finances

Charisse Keach has worked as the Finance
Director for the Town of Raymond since
September 2021 and she oversees all aspects
of the town's finances including providing
expertise in formulating Raymond's annual
town budget. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

Charisse Keach may be new to her role as Finance Director for the Town of Raymond, but she’s rapidly proving how valuable she is in helping town departments and the town manager, Don Willard, in the process of developing the Annual Raymond Budget to present to residents for the coming year. 

As Finance Director, Keach oversees all aspects of the town’s finances such as budgeting, investment of funds, financial forecasting and capital planning. She also responsible for invoice payments, payroll management, cash receipts, bank deposits and any other financial transactions for Raymond. She also works with the town’s financial advisor to prepare for bond financing and prepares required reports as mandated by federal, state and county agencies and serves as the chief liaison with the town’s auditing firm.

In her position, Keach also is responsible for seeking bids for all insurance and administering town employee’s medical insurance enrollment.

“I started on Sept. 9, 2021, and the best thing about what I do in my job is that no two days are the same. Each day comes with a variety of interactions, tasks and challenges,” Keach said. 

She’s originally from the Farmington area of Maine and graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington and Thomas College in Waterville before relocating to Southern Maine in 2011.  

According to Keach, the opportunity to add to her skills and the potential for growth in her career led her to apply for the Finance Director position with the town last fall.

“Raymond is a small rural community offering a wide array of public services which to me is appealing when looking from the outside in,” she said. “It was an opportunity to better myself professionally and it aligned with my own personal aspirations in what I foresee the future holds for me.”

As the staff member responsible for management of all activities and operations of the Finance Department, Keach has been able to display her advanced accounting skills while demonstrating that she is accurate and detail oriented, possesses excellent customer service abilities and she’s resourceful and able to excel in a fast-paced municipal environment.

Of everything she encountered in little more than six months on the job in Raymond, Keach says that effective time management is one of the most challenging aspects of her job.

“It's a balancing act of trying to be accommodating to other department head's needs and requests all while trying to manage my responsibilities as Finance Director,” she said.  

Since becoming a town employee, Keach said her most memorable moment of working for Raymond is something that many people struggle with in today’s digital age. 

“Not being able to remember my security code to enter the building,” she said.  

Currently, much of Keach’s time and attention at work has been focused on creating a budget proposal in advance of the annual town meeting in June.

“The creation of the budget itself is really not all that difficult.  It's a matter of analyzing historical data while making projections for the budget year being developed taking into consideration trends, economic factors, contractual obligations, capital needs and more,” Keach said. “The other component is that it's not one size fits all.  What works for me isn't necessarily what works for others.”

She said understanding that there are many "stakeholders" involved in the process including department heads, the Town Manager, members of the Raymond Budget-Finance committee, the Raymond Board of Selectmen and finally the residents of Raymond, has helped guide her in crafting this year’s budget. 

“It's important that the budget can be understood by all these ‘stakeholders’ because once the registered voters cast their vote, the town is obliged to run its operations within the confinements of the budget as approved,” she said. 

All the work done to create the budget will ultimately culminate with a vote by Raymond residents to approve or disapprove it during the town’s Annual Meeting to be held on June 14.

Keach said that her family is proud of what she’s been able to accomplish so far working for the town and her career as a Finance Director and the impact that she is having upon the community that she serves.

“My family is very supportive and what they like is knowing that my role is an important and integral function of town government,” she said. <   

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