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Aug 12

Keeping the Treasury safe while serving the City

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Communications Office

Bonnie Hamilton with daughter, Emelia
Bonnie Hamilton with daughter, Emelia
Bonnie Hamilton works in perhaps one of the City of San José’s least visible functions, and that’s just fine with her. From an unassuming cube at City Hall, she quietly protects hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars entrusted to the City that are essential for daily operations.

But look a little closer and you can truly see the dynamism and impact that Bonnie and her Banking and Cash Operations staff have on safeguarding the treasury while reducing Citywide staff burdens through simplified cash handling and automation.

Finance Director Julia Cooper describes Bonnie as someone who is “providing excellent customer service to departments across the City and who’s continually looking for and implementing ways to streamline our cash management and banking operations.”

Bonnie joined the City in July 2008 after spending most of her career with tech companies. Tired of the cycle of corporate mergers and reorganizations, she saw an opening at the City and went for it.

The timing wasn’t ideal when she joined the City, however, for it was just as our own workforce challenges reached a critical level. Bonnie can now laugh about receiving three layoff notices within two years, but she shrugs it off to focus on the service that she and her “great staff,” as she puts it, provide to the City.

Prior to Bonnie’s arrival, it had been nearly ten years since the City had evaluated its banking services. Significant changes in the financial services industry provided the impetus to leverage the City’s banking relationships to improve efficiency and enhance services to the organization.

A few examples of the innovations that she and her staff have implemented over the past five years include:
  • Consolidating nearly 100 separate bank accounts managed by departments into centralized accounts to enhance security and cash flow along with the use of automated deposit services for processing payments.
  • Transitioning parking meter cash management from counting coins to weighing them, saving hours of staff time each week.
  • Enabling the elimination of paper and the hand distribution of paychecks by providing payroll paycards for employees who are not enrolled in automatic deposit.
The human scale of her impact may best be illustrated by the work done for San José Family Camp at Yosemite. Previously, as a remote City operation, Family Camp staff needed to physically transport cash and process payments to and from San José, a regular time-consuming and labor-intensive requirement.

Recognizing the need to reduce this burden, Bonnie worked with Wells Fargo Bank and the Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services Department to provide credit card terminals and establish a relationship with a local bank near Family Camp to handle deposits and petty cash needs. These steps both eliminated the transportation chore and also improved security.

“I’m here to help and want departments to know they can call on Bonnie to solve problems,” she explained with unmistakable genuineness. “I enjoy Treasury with the immediacy of today and every day that comes with it.”

By constantly looking for innovations in services and methods to ensure that the City’s funds are working well for San José, Bonnie is helping all of us.

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