City appoints interim financial director

The city of Asheville has appointed John P. Smith, a former city manager of Fayetteville, N.C., and North Myrtle Beach, S.C., as interim finance director as the city faces the tricky task of closing its budget gap.

Smith’s appointment by City Manager Gary Jackson was disclosed in an announcement yesterday morning, touting his experience.

“We are pleased to have such a competent and experienced individual lead the finance department while we conduct a nationwide recruitment effort for a new finance director,” Jackson states in the announcement.  “As a former city manager, Mr. Smith understands the moving parts of local government and the details of how finance relates to each part.”

Smith comes to the city as it’s deciding how best to fill an estimated $1 million budget gap in the next fiscal year, and heading towards implementing $4 million in cuts and fee increases also needed to balance the budget. Smith replaces outgoing CFO Ben Durant, who has left to take a vice chancellor’s post at Elizabeth City State University. The city is currently conducting a nation-wide search for Durant’s permanent replacement.

The full announcement is below.

— David Forbes, senior reporter

City Manger Gary Jackson announces the appointment of John P. Smith as Interim Finance Director.  Mr. Smith brings over 40 years of experience in local government administration to the City of Asheville, including 17 years as the city manager of Fayetteville, NC and 5 years as the city manager of North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Over the next four months, city administration will conduct a nationwide search for a permanent finance director to replace Chief Financial Officer Ben Durant who has taken a position as Vice Chancellor of Finance for Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, NC.

In the interim, Mr. Smith will lead the department in planning and directing the accounting of City revenues and expenditures, supervision of payroll and related records, internal auditing and preparation of financial reports, oversight of locally-administered fee programs, management of city investments, as well as compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.  Mr. Smith will also participate in the recruitment process of a permanent full-time Finance Director.

“We are pleased to have such a competent and experienced individual lead the finance department while we conduct a nationwide recruitment effort for a new finance director,” stated Jackson.  “As a former city manager, Mr. Smith understands the moving parts of local government and the details of how finance relates to each part.”

Mr. Smith holds a B.A. from the Ohio State University and a M.P.A. from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

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