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Scarborough Finance Director Retires After 42 Years

There are certain people within the Town of Scarborough staff who have become synonymous with what it means to work for our local government—those who have been with the Town for many years and have become a recognizable asset. Finance Director Ruth Porter falls squarely in that category, having worked in the finance department since July 28,1980 (she began on her mother’s birthday, so it was a particularly auspicious day for her). After more than 42 years with the Town of Scarborough, Ruth is stepping down from her role as Finance Director to retire in early October.

Ruth is a value to the Town not only for her sheer skill and efficacy in her role, but also for the tenure and legacy she has in a department that has developed over the years to meet the needs of the community. She started with the Town of Scarborough in 1980 when the population of Scarborough was just over 11,000. Now it’s doubled at about 22,000. As the town has grown, Porter has maintained a responsible, well-managed course for all financial divisions within the town. She oversees the administrative, supervisory, and fiscal functions for the Revenue, Accounting, and Purchasing divisions. She also prepares and administers the annual budget, debt management, capital programs and manages accounting and auditing of both the town and school department finances.

“During Ruth’s incredible tenure with the Town she has overseen the transformation of our organization, to a modern sophisticated operation,” said Town Manager Tom Hall. “Her influence has been immeasurable. From establishing financial systems and to hiring quality staff, her imprint on Scarborough will remain as her legacy. I wish her congratulations and good luck in a much-deserved retirement.”

Ruth’s directorial oversight led the Town of Scarborough to receive the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) as part of their Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Finance Reporting. The prestigious honor has been awarded each consecutive year since 2005. This national recognition was established in 1945 to encourage state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare annual comprehensive financial reports “that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal” (GFOA). It is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.

Over the years, Ruth held the roles of Tax Collector and Treasurer. These roles transitioned to other Finance staff as the department and their positions grew. During her tenure in Scarborough, she put together the first computerized financial management system. Additionally, she has had a lead role in the updated computerized accounting systems (Gemini and now Munis) from Tyler Technologies. Porter also helped create the initial financial and personnel policies and procedures that in many instances are now state and federal mandated including welcome and exit processes. Again, as Scarborough has grown, both the computer and human resource functions have become their own viable and necessary departments.  

In her tenure as Finance Director, Ruth has become not only a seasoned professional with expertise in Scarborough’s finances, its departments, and its governance, but she also has an historical perspective, bar none at this point, from her involvement with many town projects, its growth, governing boards and staff during her 42 years of service. She mentored many of the Town’s department heads over the years, including Planners (3), Assessors (6), Community Services Directors (3), Fire Chiefs (5), Police Chiefs (4), Public Works Directors (3) and School Business Managers (7) to assist them in their important functions. 

“I’ve enjoyed being with the many folks who have been part of my daily work life over the years,” says Porter. Training and career development has always been her number one priority.  She has trained, nurtured and managed her departmental staff and desires only the best for them. Between herself and recent retirees Gina Clukey (33 years of service) and Teri Hodgdon (19 years of service), Scarborough has gained the tremendous historical knowledge of over 94 years’ experience within the Accounting staff alone.

Throughout her career, Ruth has been active in the field beyond the walls of her office. In 1984, she was a founding member of the Maine Government Finance Officers Association (MEGFOA) serving on the executive board from ‘84-’88 and again from ‘94-2019. She held other leadership roles as part of MEGFOA, too: she was Vice President from 1999-2000, President from 2000-2001, and Secretary/Treasurer for the majority of the other years. 

Her achievements with MEGFOA expanded past her participation on their board.  She joined the New England Government Finance Officers Association Executive Board (NESGFOA) in 2011 until 2021. Additionally, Ruth was a mentor for the GFOA Women’s Public Finance Network for a few years, mentoring new Finance Directors.

In her retirement, Ruth is very much looking forward to celebrating what she loves about Maine with her family. “My husband John and I love Maine, its colors in the fall, its seasonal changes, its mountains and beaches, its oceanfront, hiking and enjoying Maine’s pristine air and areas of untouched, natural beauty.” She plans on spending more time with him and her three children (Jacot, Jessie and Jillian), and her teenage grandson. She also looks forward to more time with friends for brunch, lunch, swimming, or seeing a play at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

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