Ben Durant, Asheville's chief financial officer, is resigning to take a job at Elizabeth City State University, the city announced March 19. The change means Asheville must now conduct a nationwide search for a new budget point person even as it faces a projected $3 million to $5 million deficit in the next fiscal year.
After a 12-year stint with the city, Durant is leaving to take a position as vice chancellor of business and finance at ECSU, in his hometown. He's been a familiar face at City Council meetings recently, keeping elected officials informed about the scope and nature of the budget crunch and repeatedly asserting that the city is at a "financial crossroads" where it can't afford to rule out such measures as increasing property taxes. At the most recent Council meeting, Durant announced that proposed cuts could bring the budget gap down to $3 million.
Durant's resignation will take effect April 15, and Administrative Services Director Lauren Bradley will take over his role while the city hunts for a permanent replacement.