She leaves behind an impressive legacy that includes receiving the prestigious Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the past 13 consecutive years, and being presented with the City’s Above and Beyond Award.
Burns started her employment with the City of Hazelwood as a payroll clerk on August 29, 1978. She was soon promoted to finance supervisor on July 9, 1979, and then to finance director on July 1, 2000. In 1995, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“When I came here 32 years ago, I met Donnie as I walked into the City’s finance department. She was the payroll clerk at the time. But she was the most experienced for possibly being a finance director for the City of Hazelwood,” said Ed Carlstrom, Hazelwood City Manager. “We sat down in my office and discussed the position and the great opportunities available to her if she accepted it. The enormous impact she has made to our community will be felt many, many years after her retirement.”
Carlstrom went on to say that Burns has a tremendous amount of history that has benefited the City of Hazelwood. “We’ve worked together on a lot of projects involving annexations, economic development, and strategic planning. Both of us have a sense of working with numbers. We knew they had to mean something because we needed them to promote Hazelwood as a great place to live, work, and play,” added Carlstrom.
Burn’s ability to clearly communicate Hazelwood’s financial story is reflected in the number of times GFOA has awarded her department for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). This document is used by financial advisors and bond rating agencies to analyze the City’s financial condition prior to approving the issuance of bonds and other financial transactions.
Examples of how this has been beneficial to Hazelwood include the issuance of general obligation street bonds, revenue bonds for Cabela’s Wildlife Museum, and certificates of participation for the $5.7 million White Birch Bay Aquatic Center. In 2010, Standard and Poor upgraded the City’s bond rating from A+ to AA- based on its evaluation of the CAFR.
Since Burns began working for Hazelwood, city revenue has increased from $3.7 million to $31.6 million and the City’s assessed value has jumped from $69.8 million to $543.6 million. Also, she has worked enthusiastically to provide financial information explaining the effect of various tax and annexation elections.
Some of her accolades include serving as Secretary, Treasurer, 1st and 2nd Vice President and President of the St. Louis Area Government Finance Officers Association, and serving on the Board of Directors of the State Government Finance Officers Association.