Russ Morreale is heading home.
During the Feb. 11 Los Altos City Council meeting, Morreale revealed that he is leaving his post as the city’s finance and technology director at the end of this month for the same position with the Southern California coastal city of Palos Verdes Estates – which also happens to be his hometown. Morreale has called the city – located in Los Angeles County – home for the past six years, commuting back and forth on nearly a weekly basis to spend weekends with his wife and family.
Shortly after he delivered the city’s midyear budget review Feb. 11, several members of the council – including Mayor Megan Satterlee – thanked Morreale for his five-plus years of service.
“You have been a tremendous asset to the city, moving our financial reporting along (and) helping council and the community really understand what’s going on with our dollars in a very, very difficult economic situation where that clarity was really important,” she said. “I think your legacy will last, and I congratulate you on your new career opportunity.”
Councilwoman Val Carpenter told the Town Crier that one of Morreale’s biggest contributions was his development of a transparent, easy-to-understand financial reporting system. She also lauded his efforts in keeping the city fiscally sound during times of economic downturn, calling him a “jewel” for Los Altos.
“He’s done amazing things for this city,” Carpenter said of Morreale, who was hired by former Los Altos City Manager Doug Schmitz. “I really wish him the best. I can’t even describe the level of improvement in our financial statements in terms of clarity.”
Carpenter also noted Morreale’s likeable personality and easygoing demeanor in all city matters.
“He’s made a lot of personal sacrifices – both he and his family – to do this job for us,” she said. “He’s such an affable guy. He always has a smile on his face and he’s so positive.”
Reached by the Town Crier, Morreale said he’s particularly proud of the way the city “navigated” the waters of an economic downturn, not long after he began his tenure with Los Altos. Specifically, he called the city an “organization that wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions at the right time,” and noted that the city resisted instituting employee work furloughs at the time.
He also recalled with pride the efforts of city employees during the tumultuous economic period, noting that they “recognized” the need to negotiate new contracts that led to the city’s current multi- tiered pension system.
“What made that happen is an organization that has a deep sense of trust in its employees,” said Morreale, who pointed to other achievements, such as fully funding the city’s $5.725 million fiscal safety reserve.
He credited his three-person finance staff for working shorthanded and pulling “double duty” to help keep the city fiscally sound. Despite the opportunity to return home, Morreale noted that his departure at the end of the month would be bittersweet.
“There’s a lot to love about Los Altos,” he said. “When you have such a great community and you work for such a great organization, it’s hard to leave.”