MIAMI (CBS4)- Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado has picked an interim chief financial officer to lead the city through its latest budget woes.

Scott Simpson, finance chief of the Miami Parking Authority who earlier in his career served as the city’s finance director, will spend the next three months looking for ways to balance the 2012 budget, which faces an estimated shortfall of $40 million.

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When that task is complete, Simpson plans to return to the MPA, a semi-autonomous agency that oversees parking and fills city coffers with millions of dollars a year, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. Regalado announced Thursday morning that Simpson will be on loan from the agency free of charge. As MPA finance chief, Simpson makes a healthy $243,756 in total compensation.

“Scott knows the City and its finances since he worked here for several years and has a great relationship with the budget and finance director,” Regalado told city commissioners in an e-mail about the move. “He is also very well respected by the ratings agency.”

Simpson joined MPA in February 2006 after he was the Director of Finance for the City of Miami. He joined the City in October 1998 as Assistant Finance Director. Before that, he served as Chief Accountant for the City of Winter Park, Florida, according to the Miami Parking Authority.

Simpson also worked as an accounting manager and controller in private industry for a number of years. Simpson graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.A. in Accounting.

The immediate concerns facing Simpson are a pair of bond sales worth almost $200 million — one is a refinancing, the other to help build the tunnel to the Port of Miami — and a city budget for next fiscal year that needs to be in place by the end of September.

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That spending plan faces a $40 million shortfall from a number of sources: $10 million it budgeted last year in nonrecurring revenue from a redevelopment agency, $12 million less than expected in property tax returns, $8 million it doesn’t expect to collect from a red-light camera initiative, and increased expenses of about $10 million.

Simpson has been credited with doing a good job at the MPA, which operates the city’s parking garages, meters and lots. This year, that is expected to translate to about $7 million for Miami.

Replacing outgoing CFO Larry Spring had become a priority for Regalado, whose city manager, Tony Crapp Jr., is mulling a job offer from a private firm in Broward. By the end of July commissioners must set a property tax rate that can be lowered but not increased.

Art Noriega, the CEO of the parking agency, praised Simpson in an e-mail to Regalado outlining Simpson’s new job. “Scott’s prior exemplary service with the city will allow for some continuity and give the City’s leadership the assurance that the financial matters of the city will be well managed.”

Regalado, stung by Spring’s departure and Crapp’s impending exit, says Simpson’s history with Miami leaves him with a rapport with commissioners.

“He is the right person to come in because he doesn’t have to learn. He’ll help a lot image-wise, and in reality,” the mayor said.

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