Two-and-a-half years after losing its budget director to one neighbor, the town is hiring a new one away from another.
New Canaan also has selected a new town planner, officials said Tuesday.
The Board of Selectmen during a special meeting voted 3-0 to hire Lunda Asmani as budget director. He currently serves as director of management and budgets for Norwalk.
During a night meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission, Chairman John Goodwin also announced that Lynn Avni has been selected as town planner.
Though Avni’s full professional background was not immediately available, Goodwin said that she has “nine years of experience across the country,” including in New Orleans and New York state. Avni is expected to be in place for P&Z’s next meeting, he said. According to a LinkedIn profile under ‘Lynn Avni,’ she has served for more than two years as director of planning and development for Ossining, N.Y., a village of 25,000 in Westchester. The selectmen will need to approve the hiring at their July 10 meeting.
The interim town planner, Keisha Fink, will remain with the town on a part-time basis.
“One thing I want to note is that Mrs. Fink walked into a very, very difficult situation,” Goodwin said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “We lost our prior town planner under not the best of circumstances, and she came into a situation where it was sudden.”
Turning to her, he added: “You were thrown into the mix, and personally I have been incredibly impressed by the diligence, the experience and quite frankly the wonderful spirit and attitude that you have handled in this position.”
Members of P&Z gave her an ovation.
Asmani has served in the position in Norwalk since 2016, according to his resume. He holds a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and economics from the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and a master’s degree in public administration fro Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. Prior to Norwalk, he worked as assistant city manager for budget and finance in Newtown, Kan., where he “worked on budgets for many years,” according to Cheryl Pickering-Jones, New Canaan’s human resources director.
“I think he is going to fit unbelievably well into this department,” she said. “I think he brings a lot to New Canaan and we are very lucky to have him.”
Pickering-Jones said she, New Canaan Finance Director Sandy Dennies, Administrative Officer Tom Stadler and First Selectman Kevin Moynihan met him.
New Canaan hasn’t had a dedicated budget director since the well-regarded Jennifer Charneski took a job as CFO of Darien in late-2105.
Asmani is one of about 500 “certified public finance officers” or ‘CPFOs’ in the nation, Dennies said.
“He does budget projections, capital and operating,” she said, and “has a great facility” for the Munis software system that will help “bring us up to the next level.”
Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams voted in favor of hiring him.
The selectmen asked what agency bestows the CPFO qualification (Government Finance Officers Association of USA & Canada) and how he would handle what he listed as ongoing work as an adjunct instructor of economics in Kansas (that’s online and at night).
Devereaux said Asmani appeared to be “tremendously qualified” and asked why he would stay in Norwalk for such a short period.
Pickering-Jones said that in looking at New Canaan’s AAA rating, the budget director job was one “he had always wanted.”