Wilmette’s finance guy, Bob Amoruso, rebudgets his time with village
Village of Wilmette finance director Bob Amoruso is leaving. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Bob Amoruso
KNOWN FOR: He has helmed Wilmette’s finance department for almost 30 years
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:39AM
He’s a long time fan of the X-Files, but there’s no mystery to the role Bob Amoruso plays in Wilmette’s fiscal fortunes.
For close to 30 years, Amoruso has been village finance director, seeing the community through dozens of budget cycles and the occasional national economic downturn. Now he is getting ready to hand over the reins to a successor, but he took time Monday to reflect on his time at Village Hall.
Amoruso wasn’t originally planning a career in finance. The Chicago native’s first love was engineering, and that was his original major at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. But he decided to switch to accounting in his junior year.
“Like a lot of people who went to University of Illinois, I was used to being at the top of my class. Well discovered that while I was a good engineering student, there were a lot of people who were a lot better at this than I was,” he joked.
“So I decided to switch to accounting – and lo and behold, I was getting As again!”
He graduated in 1978 with a master’s in accounting, having also gotten his undergraduate degree in economics the previous year. And he still found time to complete a degree in engineering, while looking for his first accounting job.
Amoruso spent three years as a public accountant; his introduction to Wilmette was while doing audits for the village and for the park district. He spent up to 16 weeks every year in the village, “so I knew it as well as anyone coming in from the outside,” he said. When someone suggested he interview for the soon-to-be-vacant finance director’s position, he took their advice, and got the job.
In the years that followed, Amoruso said he was lucky to have a town with a diversified and stable economic base, one that wasn’t dependent on one employer or even one geographic business district.
His toughest job, he said, was one that all municipalities have; handling policy mandates or funding cuts from the state or federal government. Another challenge has been computerization.
“They are such an incredible part of our lifestyle now. Because of that, our need for information and for quick retrieval of that information and data has become even greater. Computers, which were supposed to make our lives easier, can actually give us a lot more work,” Amoruso said.
In 1997, he helped Wilmette win its first Triple A financial rating, something he’s very proud of: “There are not many communities that have that kind of rating.”
Amoruso won’t be leaving the Wilmette scene completely; he expects to stay on in a part-time accounting role, after his successor takes over sometime in November.
But he will have more time to spend bowling, a hobby he’s enjoyed on and off since high school, and which he has coached for the past nine years at New Trier High School.
(How good is he? Well, he’ll be heading to Las Vegas in two weeks to participate in bowling’s Senior U.S. Open and Senior Masters Open tournaments.)
He’ll be able to spend more time with wife Mary Beth in their Glenview home, and with daughter Kate, who just graduated from Amoruso’s old alma mater, and step-daughters Jennifer and Elizabeth.
Amoruso will also have more time to cheer on the Chicago White Sox and his beloved University of Illinois football team.
“It’s time to take it just a little easier,” he said.