2018 in review: Turnover at the top of Buncombe County government

ROTATING OUT: County Clerk Kathy Hughes retired on June 30, 2018, after 35 years working for Buncombe County. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County

As the investigation into former County Manager Wanda Greene ground on into 2018, Buncombe County witnessed steady turnover in many of its top positions.

  1. Mandy Stone: Appointed to the role of county manager following Greene’s departure in June 2017, Stone lasted a year before her sudden retirement on July 1. A month later, prosecutors filed charges against Stone, former Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton and Greene alleging that the three accepted lavish vacations in exchange for favorable treatment on county contracts. (Greene and Creighton had the authority to award those contracts.) Stone was previously the county’s director of health and human services before commissioners chose her to succeed Greene as county manager.
  2. Tim Flora: Prior to his resignation in June, Chief Financial Officer Tim Flora had worked for the county since 2007. In August, Flora said in an interview with the Citizen Times that members of his staff became aware of Greene’s questionable spending in the days leading up to her retirement, which helped launch the federal investigation into Greene. Flora told the paper that commissioners originally intended to fire him over insurance payments for employee policies allegedly initiated by Greene. “They’re looking for a fall guy,” Flora said in the interview. The board ultimately allowed him to resign. The county announced in October that Flora would be replaced by Donald Warn, who previously served as administrative services director for the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District in Denver, Colo.
  3. Diane Price: A 27-year veteran of Buncombe County government who served as budget and management services director beginning in April 2014, Price retired Sept. 1. She was one of 10 recipients of county-provided whole-life insurance policies federal prosecutors say Greene purchased without proper authorization using misappropriated county funds. Contrary to a county press release that stated no employees had received financial benefit from the policies, WLOS reported in July that Price took out a loan against one of her policies. Price told the station Greene had assured recipients that “all appropriate approvals had been made,” she said. In October, the county announced that Jennifer Chilton, who had been working as budget manager since January, would fill the budget director position left by Price.
  4. Lisa Eby: Buncombe County’s former human resources director told reporters in June that she would be retiring effective Sept. 1. She said she originally planned to retire on Dec. 1 but decided on stay on with the county at the request of Stone to help with the transition in leadership. “Despite everything that is going [on], I still believe in the power of local government,” she told reporters. “Unlike national politics, we do have [a] choice at a local level for building the kind of community we want to live in.”
  5. Kathy Hughes: After 35 years working for Buncombe County,Hughes, clerk to the Board of Commissioners, retired on June 30. From a pool of 209 applicants, commissioners decided to replace Hughes with Lamar Joyner, who worked for 11 years as the deputy director of the Board of Elections in Forsyth County.

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About David Floyd
David Floyd was a reporter for the Mountain Xpress. He previously worked as a general-assignment reporter for the Johnson City Press.

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