Jersey City mayor appoints new acting director of finance

Resident and longtime employee Elizabeth Castillo takes the baton

Elizabeth Castillo is the new acting director of the Jersey City Department of Finance.
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Elizabeth Castillo is the new acting director of the Jersey City Department of Finance.

Elizabeth Castillo will be the new acting director of the Jersey City Department of Finance, a position left vacant by the department’s first-ever director, John Metro, who was recently appointed acting business administrator by Mayor Steven Fulop.

The mayor created the new department earlier this year to develop fiscal policies and procedures.

Jersey City resident Castillo has an accounting career that spans more than 21 years, which includes experience in government, manufacturing, and managerial roles, during which time she obtained state licensure as a Certified Municipal Financial Officer.

As acting director, she will oversee five divisions within the Jersey City Finance Department, including Management and Budget, Collections, Treasury and Debt Management, Accounts and Control, and Payroll.

“Liz Castillo is the epitome of what hard work can accomplish. Having started as a clerk for HHS in 2003, she has a track record of success in every step of her career, leading up to her new role as Acting Director of Finance,” Fulop said. “We are in the midst of historically challenging times as we face unprecedented financial hardships, but I have no doubt she will continue our aggressive efforts in creating a sustainable and resilient fiscal model for Jersey City now and for decades to come.”

In her most recent position as chief financial officer within the finance department, Castillo, who has been a Jersey City employee since 2003, has been a key player on the city’s financial team.

‘Beyond humbled’

“As a single mother, a Jersey City resident, and a Latina, I’m beyond humbled to be entrusted by Mayor Fulop with this great opportunity to continue the important work within the newly established Division of Finance,” Castillo said.I’m excited to further solidify our stance as a regional model of what fiscal responsibility can accomplish.”

The newly created Department of Finance is tasked with all budgetary management. As local governments nationwide face crippling budgetary burdens, the Fulop Administration said it took steps to address unprecedented financial hardships amid the health and economic crisis to help alleviate taxpayer burdens while establishing a more stable economic foundation.

In August, the city council adopted a $658 million municipal budget, which despite a $70 million funding gap due to COVID-19, did not result in increases in the municipal portion of residents’ tax bills.

This was primarily because of hiring freezes, restructuring personnel, and internal audits,resulting in $25 million in savings as well as about $20 million in CARES Act funding that helped offset additional COVID-19-related expenses.

Despite the odds, the city’s actions were recently cited by Moody’s credit rating as a reason to earn a “stable” rating this year compared to most other cities seeing credit downgrades and negative reviews.

The Moody’s report states, “the city government is taking strong action to address both the public health needs of the city and the budgetary implications thereof. The city also has extensive plans to address the substantial expected losses of revenue.”

According to Metro, the former director of finance and current acting business administrator, Castillo is the best person to continue the city’s progress.

“Liz has been a great asset to our finance team and is the best fit to further lead the city in our objective to best serve the residents and businesses citywide, ” he said.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.