• December 25, 2014

Cove finance director more than just number-cruncher

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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007 4:32 am | Updated: 4:53 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Joshua Winata

The Cove Herald

For Wanda Bunting, the city of Copperas Cove’s new director of finance, crunching numbers is only part of the job.

While swimming in spreadsheets, budgets and financial reports may not seem like a great way to spend the day for most, Bunting sees accounting not only as a crucial component of city operations, but also as the window onto a world of continual learning and discovery.

“When I first started, I thought it was just making sure that things reconciled and make sure everything balanced. I’m just a very structured person that way,” she said. “As I’ve grown in the accounting field, I’ve learned that you’ve got to tie it to performance measures, and it links to everything you do. It’s essentially the central hub for the whole organization of the city. Everybody needs finances to operate, so you end up learning about all the areas, and that’s the appeal now to me.”

Bunting started in the field of accounting as a high school student in Lampasas. Bunting’s mother, an accountant with the county, found a job for her at a local certified public accounting firm, where she flourished.

“It was something I found a niche in and I understood, and it was a career I could go somewhere with,” she said.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting at The University of Texas at Austin, Bunting took a position with the Texas Office of the Attorney General and then went to work for the Texas Education Agency, where she became the assistant budget director, for more than seven years.

Government work has been an ongoing theme in Bunting’s career. She admits she initially took a government job to claim the comfortable benefits package, but over time she has come to appreciate the intrinsic rewards of public service as well.

“You get so much more out of government in a way. If you strive to do the best you can, you know you’re doing something for somebody else,” Bunting said. “You learn that you’re not just processing numbers or you’re not just trying to make somebody richer. You’re trying to serve the people and do the best you can with the finances and the resources that are available.”

Prior to coming to Copperas Cove, she moved from Austin to the city of Killeen, where she worked for more than two years as a management accountant, but the city was not where she wanted to be.

“The traffic and the headaches — it’s just not me. I’m definitely more of an easygoing, relaxed type person,” Bunting said.

A country girl at heart, Bunting left the big city and headed west. She and Philip, her husband of five years, recently purchased some land in Lampasas County and expect to have a house built by this spring.

A professed homebody, Bunting enjoys simpler entertainment pursuits like puzzles, chick flicks or arts and crafts, “just things to get your mind away from all the numbers and the politics,” she says.

It also helps that her parents and most of her siblings still live in the area: two of her sisters are teachers, one in Lampasas and the other in Killeen, while the third works in Arkansas but comes down to visit for the holidays.

Just because she enjoys the comforts of home doesn’t mean Bunting isn’t willing to skip town for a while. She and her husband have a pact to travel together every anniversary. So far they have been to Big Bend, Florida, Mexico and the Carribean, and this week, the couple is leaving on a cruise to Spain.

But she’s got plenty to do before then: thrown into the job only two week ago, Bunting is still in the process of comprehensively learning all aspects of city finance from grant application processes to budget documents and financial reporting standards.

Sound like fun? To Bunting it does.

“To understand how the city government works and how everything links together, you have to be involved as a finance director with all the pieces,” she said. “That’s of interest to me. I like to know what’s going on.”

Contact Joshua Winata at jpwinata@kdhnews.com or call (254) 547-6481

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