The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Berseng, Kuhl seek auditor job--Nicci Bergeng

 

Diana Zimmerman

Nicci Bergseng

When Wahkiakum County Auditor Nicci Bergseng stepped into the position left vacant by Diane Tischer, who retired in December 2017, she knew she was going to have to campaign to keep it every four years.

"When she was talking about retiring, Diane asked me if I was up for the challenge," Bergseng said. "Obviously she saw qualities in me that would work for that job. I'm always up for a challenge. Some people stay in a comfortable spot, and I never do. Partly because you get to see the end result. You take something that you are uncomfortable with or that is out of your norm and you see it through and you get to end result. That's huge."

"I believe there are leaders and followers," she added. "I'm a leader. I'm a strong independent person. I learned at a young age to be that way. If you want something you have to work for it. That has been my drive forever."

Bergseng, who graduated from Wahkiakum High School in 1994, has lived in Wahkiakum County most of her life.

There were some post secondary accounting classes after high school, but Bergseng didn't work until her kids were a little older. She took two part time jobs in the community working as a front desk clerk for the mental health department and for the local dentist, Dr. Douglas Martin, for three years before obtaining a certificate to be a dental assistant. When an opportunity for a full time position opened up at the Bank of the Pacific, she took it and there she stayed for 10 years.

Three years ago, she started handling accounts payable for Wahkiakum County, eventually working her way up to what was Chief Financial Deputy before stepping into the auditor role.

"A lot of people think we just do car tabs," Bergseng said of the office, "but we have accounts payable for the county and all the junior districts, like the ports and fire districts. We also have the human resources department, we administer elections, we do all the recordings. Our office is really busy. We work really close with the assessor and the treasurer. It is really important that we have good communication and good relationships to keep that flow going."

"I'm huge on customer service," she said. "I pride myself on that. I want to give a good experience and I want people to say 'Hey! They're awesome in there.'"

"You have to learn to handle yourself in a way that you are inviting and professional," she added. "I've worked in different areas in this county for so long but they all tie back into the community and interacting with the people."

Her attitude about customer service doesn't just apply to the people who walk through their doors, but to her employees as well.

"I have a vision of how I see this office," Bergseng said. "We have young staff. I see it just coming together. I just want to get there. I really believe that if people are doing what they love, you get better performance. You have people that want to come to work, to do a great job. Diane did an amazing job. I don't want to change everything. Changes are good in moderation without disrupting the whole thing. Moving forward, I see people being more passionate in other areas. I see people moving toward things they really love to do. I don't know how I'll do that."

Running an efficient, friendly office is key, she says. She also has some ideas for how the county might handle travel expenses in the future, and hopes to eventual approach the commissioners with those ideas.

"We don't set policies, we don't create the budgets," Bergseng said. "A lot of it comes from the state, the commissioners, the granting agencies. We have a lot of rules and contracts. We have our jobs to do, but it's within limits."

"My staff and I both try to make things seamless in our office," she said. "Customers don't know how much work goes on behind the scenes. People can come in and get things done accurately and they trust our office. I want to maintain that."

"I love the work that I'm doing," Bergseng said. "Our office is so busy all the time. It's never the same thing."

 

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