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City finance director Tho Kraus leaves for Lakewood
Tho Kraus, the City of Federal Way's finance director, is leaving the city to become an assistant city manager with the City of Lakewood.
In Lakewood, Kraus will be in charge of the city's finance and accounting functions, information systems and human resources, according to a brief release from Lakewood's city manager, John Caulfield. Kraus begins her new job on Oct. 7.
According to city spokesperson Chris Carrel, the search is already under way to replace Kraus and her financial expertise. Kraus will still lend an advisory hand as the city works on budget adjustments, and while the city looks for her replacement.
"The city is contracting with a professional recruiter for an interim director as well as the permanent replacement process," Carrel wrote in an email to The Mirror. "We anticipate evaluating candidates for the interim position shortly. The permanent position will be announced soon, and will likely remain open until mid-January. That would likely put us at mid-February or thereabouts for a final hiring decision."
Carrel also noted that Kraus' replacement will require confirmation by the city council.
Kraus is credited for helping the city navigate the difficult economic waters of recent years. The city saw a drastic drop in tax revenues that required the shedding of a number of positions and reorganizations within the city. Kraus and her staff's work led to yearly recognition by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, with the city receiving the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting throughout nearly all of Kraus' tenure in Federal Way.
"The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and reporting," Kraus said in 2011, the 20th straight year the city had been awarded the certificate. "This award underscores the city's commitment to providing excellent management and reporting of taxpayer dollars."
Kraus said her time at Federal Way has been positive, and the change to Lakewood was one of those unexpected curveballs that life sometimes throws at people.
"Overall, my experience has been very good," she said. "I wasn't looking to leave the city at all, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. I've been very happy here, I thought I'd retire here, but it didn't turn out that way."
Kraus has been involved in municipal/public finance for 21 years — 19 of those with Federal Way. She also worked for the City of Tacoma and Clover Park School District. Kraus is a University of Washington graduate, where she received a BA in business administration with an accounting concentration. Kraus will be returning to her hometown, having grown up in Lakewood where she graduated from Clover Park High School.
"We are losing probably one of the most important members of our management team," Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest said during the council's Oct. 1 meeting. "I just want to give my personal thanks to a person who has done an outstanding job on behalf of our city…I could also list the incredible achievements of our finance department in terms of awards…We will miss you greatly."