Thursday, January 20, 2011
By BRIAN BARBER Tulsa World Staff Writer
Tulsa City Auditor Preston Doerflinger was named Wednesday as Gov. Mary Fallin's secretary of finance and director of the Office of State Finance.
Fallin touted Doerflinger, 38, as a successful businessman, who, as city auditor, has "dedicated himself to ensuring our tax dollars are used wisely."
"Preston has specialized expertise in analyzing operations and extensive experience in budgeting, accounting, auditing and financial oversight of various types of businesses," she said.
"I know he'll be a great addition to our team, and I'm happy to have him serve in my Cabinet."
Doerflinger's appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation, but he can begin work while it is pending. The Legislative session starts next month.
His new state salary will be $108,000; he was earning $73,500 as Tulsa's city auditor.
Doerflinger, who was introduced Wednesday at a Capitol press conference, told the Tulsa World he expects to start his new state job before the end of the month.
"I have mixed emotions about my leaving, but to have an opportunity to serve my state on this level is an opportunity I needed to pursue," he said.
Doerflinger will help the governor prepare her executive budget and implement her fiscal policies.
Because there is less than a year left on his two-year city auditor term, his post will be filled by appointment for the remainder of his term and will be up for election in November.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett must make the appointment, which is subject to City Council approval.
The mayor said he intends to form a small search committee to act quickly to fill the vacancy.
Council Chairwoman Maria Barnes said that because councilors have to agree to the mayor's choice, she hopes Bartlett will bring some of them in for input.
"We should be able to come together on this and make it an easy transition rather than having any controversy," she said. "I really hope we can work together on it."
Bartlett said he will get advice from councilors but is unsure whether he will ask any to serve on the search committee.
Bartlett said Doerflinger will be missed but that it will be great to have a "friend to the city of Tulsa" serving in such a prominent state position.
"This is Gov. Fallin following through on her commitment to have more people in her Cabinet from Tulsa," he said.
"Preston knows Tulsa very well and really understands the challenges we are facing. Ultimately, he will be able to put in a good word for us at the state Capitol if we need it."
Doerflinger has been in the prominent position of heading up the city's Management Review Office, which is charged with vetting the 1,100 recommendations included in the KPMG efficiency study of Tulsa's government.
Doerflinger said he is confident that process will continue uninterrupted with the city employees who are part of the review office.
"The mayor is going to have to make those decisions ultimately," he said. "But with the team we have assembled, I don't think we will miss a beat."
Doerflinger, a Republican, was sworn in to his first-term as city auditor in December 2009 after prevailing in an election battle against Phil Wood, a Democrat who had held the position since 1988.
It was his first foray into politics.
Self-employed for the 13 years prior, he owns PLD Management and has interest in several health-care related businesses, from pharmacies to medical equipment. He is also a registered respiratory therapist.
When he became auditor, which is a full-time position, he was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of his businesses.
Doerflinger has a respiratory therapy degree from Tulsa Community College and a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership from Southern Nazarene University.
Due to a City Charter amendment set to go into effect with the 2011 municipal elections, the city auditor will either have to be a certified public accountant or a certified internal auditor.
Doerflinger was in the process of taking the necessary tests to become a certified internal auditor so he could run for the post again.