City of Merrill hires new Finance Director
Emily Ley began her new role January 2
BY TINA L. SCOTT
As part of its succession planning in preparation for the retirement of City of Merrill Finance Director Kathy Unertl, the City of Merrill began looking for qualified candidates they could hire to come on board and work alongside and with Unertl prior to her retirement.
City Administrator Rod Akey said they didn’t anticipate finding qualified candidates as quickly as they did since they didn’t really begin recruiting in earnest until after budget season. “But we were lucky,” Akey said.
Emily Ley was hired as the City’s new Finance Director and started work for the City on Jan. 2, 2024.
“We’re really impressed with her,” Akey said. He said she is a really good communicator, and the City placed a high value on that as a key requirement for this role. “Communication, communication, communication,” he said.
Ley was previously employed as Assistant Finance Director for the City of Wausau and prior to that worked as Finance Director for the City of Plover and Finance Director/Village Treasurer for the Village of Kronenwetter. She has a B.S. degree in Economics from UW-Eau Claire, a M.A. degree from the University of Iowa, and a Masters of Public Administration degree from UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs.
With 10 years of experience in municipal finance and a record of successful financial management along with experience modernizing and streamlining financial policies, strong technical skills in data analysis, and a focus on long-term planning, she has already stepped into her new role.
“I strive to provide quality stewardship of City resources, timely and accurate financial information, and excellent customer service,” Ley said.
Ley will be responsible for managing City finances, preparing budgets, conducting financial analysis, financial planning and reporting, managing tax increment financing, and debt management, and communicating the City’s financial information to City officials and the public.
On a personal note, “I grew up in Tomahawk, live in Wausau, and enjoy hiking, biking, backpacking, DIY home improvement projects, and walking my dog,” Ley said. Quirkly little personal tidbit? “I’m learning to make sourdough bread,” she added.
“I’m looking forward to exploring Merrill, learning more about the community, and helping the City achieve our goals,” Ley said.
Unertl is projected to retire around mid-July of this year, that date is subject to change.