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Superior council appoints new finance director – Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — The Superior City Council confirmed the appointment of the city’s next finance director Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Nick Rhinehart.jpg

Nick Rhinehart

Contributed / Nick Rhinehart

Nick Rhinehart, the current finance and operations director for the Head of the Lakes United Way, will take on the city’s top job in the finance department.

After former finance director Ashley Puetz resigned in June, officials went through two recruitment periods to find the right candidate.

Mayor Jim Paine said Rhinehart has eight years of professional experience, the same level of experience Puetz had when she was hired by the city.

Rhinehart earned a Bachelor of Arts in accounting and business administration, a double major, from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.

“I never had any intentions of being an accountant whatsoever, but I had this really great adviser at my school who encouraged me to go on this path,” Rhinehart said.

After college, he said he thought about where he wanted to live and work. He landed in Hayward working for a small certified public accounting firm where he got involved in nonprofit and municipality audits.

“I really liked the work,” Rhinehart said. “I really liked the people I worked with.” Among the municipalities he worked with was the town of Superior and he ended up here. After working in the corporate world in Duluth for a year, he went back to working with nonprofits.

“When I choose a career, I want to do the most good for the most people I can,” Rhinehart said. “… It’s a town of 26,000 people; I want to do the best I can for them.”

Prior to joining the United Way in 2020, the mayor stated in a memo to council, Rhinehart worked as an accountant on municipal and nonprofit audits, financial statements, budgets, payroll and tax returns. References described him as intelligent, a quick learner and a strong critical thinker who offers sound advice and builds effective relationships, the mayor wrote.

“One of the most impressive things on his resume, he had pretty advanced IT and financial software skills,” Paine told the council. “That’s something some of us were interested in, particularly as we work to advance our financial systems.”

Paine and acting finance director Deb Kamunen agreed that Rhinehart was their first choice from the beginning after an extensive interview process, Paine said.

“He struck me as very direct and honest, which is obviously a great person to work with in any staff position, but in finance, that’s absolutely crucial,” Paine said. “You have to have someone who will not only tell you the truth about your finances … but is willing to confront you when you’re wrong. Even more importantly, is willing to confront themselves. We saw that a lot with Mr. Rhinehart. He was very direct about the things that he is strong on, the things he’s not so strong on.”

Rhinehart will start in the new role in November.

Kamunen, the city’s assistant finance director, will continue to serve as the acting finance director through the end of the year, while Rhinehart trains in for his new position, Paine said. The city is contracting with retired Superior finance director Jean Vito to provide the training.

Vito served as the city’s finance director from 2001 until her retirement in 2019; she joined the city’s finance department in 1993 as the assistant finance director.

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