Puyallup Herald

Puyallup finance director known for reducing city’s debt to retire

The finance director for the city of Puyallup has announced his retirement.

Cliff Craig, 65, is known for his conservative budget policies, which helped the city pay down its debt.

His last day is May 31.

“It has been my privilege and an honor to serve the City of Puyallup for the last 11 years,” he told The Herald in an email.

The process for naming Craig’s replacement is currently underway, said city spokeswoman Brenda Fritsvold.

Originally from Maine, Craig is a PLU graduate who came to Puyallup after working two decades with the city of Kent.

Craig is known as “Fiscal Cliff” to some city staff, who recognized him during a council meeting on Tuesday.

“He’s probably most well known around here and most famous for the budget-stability policy which we use as a key tool in our budget advancement,” city manager Kevin Yamamoto said.

The budget stability policy prevented the city from mass layoffs following the 2008 recession.

“We did have some attrition, retirement-type things, but Cliff kept people employed,” Yamamoto said.

The policy organizes expenditures into three tiers, Craig explained to The Herald in 2017.

Tier 1 includes the Puyallup Police Department, street maintenance, Parks and Recreation and other “every day” expenditures by the city. Tier 2 consists of operating capital — for example, the routine replacement of computers, cars and other needs. Tier 3 is everything else — from general fund reserves to paying off debt.

In 2010, Puyallup had racked up $86 million in debt. That’s decreased every year since, down to $32 million at the end of 2018.

“I was blessed with City Councils and city managers that were mostly supportive of my efforts, most of the time, as we worked our way through some financial challenges,” Craig said.

Craig said he’s looking forward to spending time with family and friends.