ALBANY -- Charles Adams, the city's longtime finance and administration services director, has announced that he will retire from his position on Aug. 9. The 71-year old has been with Albany for 12 years.
Adams' retirement coincides with that of City Manager Beth Pollard, who hired him for the position. Adams said Pollard's retirement was a factor in his decision.
"I think the new city manager would be well served to have a financial manager of his or her choosing," Adams said. "I think it's good for me and I don't want to go into a new challenge learning things. I think change is good."
Adams was lauded for his work by Councilwoman Marge Atkinson.
"He has been a great person in our city," she said. "He has kept us solvent. He has been open. I know he's been real close to Beth in terms of trying to keep things on an even keel. We're sorry to see him go."
She added, "He has got a real tongue-in-cheek kind of personality. He has been a real fun guy besides being really competent."
Adams grew up in Salt Lake City and attended the University of Utah. He moved to San Francisco after graduation, then to St. Louis where he earned his master's of business degree at Washington University. He then returned to San Francisco, where he passed the certified public accountant examination and went to work for Price Waterhouse. He then formed a local firm, Adams, Grant, White and Company and did a lot of work for government agencies such as BART, AC Transit and EBMUD. After 14 years of private practice, he took the job of Chief Financial Officer for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Commission.
During Adams' tenure with the Coliseum, the Raiders returned to Oakland from Los Angeles -- demanding a renovation of the outdoor stadium in the process. Just a couple of years later, the Arena was rebuilt for the Warriors. The Coliseum also hosted major concerts including Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and the Who. One of the perks of the job was that Adams got to go to the concerts.
However, there was also controversy. The Coliseum was overseen by an independent agency managing the complex for the city and county. After the Raiders returned, the city and county were on the hook for much of the costs and there were also lawsuits between the team and the commission. In 2000, the commission was dissolved and the city and county took over management. Adams found himself out of a job.
Pollard had recently come to Albany as city manager and was looking for a finance director.
"The complexity of the finances at the Coliseum I think prepared him to handle the complexities of the city's finances," Pollard said.
Adams said he's proud of the balanced budgets he was able to produce.
"We had, under my direction, 12 balanced budgets," he said. "We went through a period, when I first came in, of rebuilding the finances of the city -- workman's comp, unfunded liabilities. We secured all of that and put ourselves in a very sound financial position. Then, when the downturn came, we were able to sustain it without substantial disruptions, like furloughs and layoffs."
He also is proud of his work modernizing the city's financial record-keeping without having to spend money on outside consultants.
"Even though the payroll becomes more challenging with time, we've been able to do it with staff," Adams said. "We upgraded the accounting to a modern financial reporting system. (In the past), we did monthly reports that used four reams of paper. We were able to move in to modern financial reporting with real time data so managers could access their departments in real time, so managers could see revenues and expenses, and we do it online so we don't use paper at all."
Adams also was the founding president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.
"When I entered the profession, there was just a handful of African Americans and a few other minorities," Adams said. "If I was asked the greatest accomplishment, (it would be that) with my firm over 30 minorities became certified. To become a CPA you have to have an experience requirement and it was very difficult at the time for minorities to gain the experience."
Adams said the numbers still aren't as high as he would like. However, the organization has helped connect young prospective accountants from the African-American community with mentors and role models.
Adams, who lives in Hercules, said his retirement plans are to golf more. He is married with five grown children and three grandchildren.