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City finance director fired

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Friday, April 7, 2017

Elizabeth City’s longtime finance officer has been fired, City Manager Rich Olson confirmed Friday.

Olson said he fired Sarah Blanchard on Thursday, but said state personnel privacy laws prevented him from providing further details.

Blanchard had served the city for more than 37 years and had actually been expected to retire soon, based on a memo Olson provided councilors in February.

Olson said the finance department’s acting director is Evelyn Benton, listed on the city’s website as the department’s chief accountant.

As finance director, Blanchard oversaw the city’s $64 million-plus budget and its many financial functions.

Though Olson would not say why Blanchard was fired, her termination comes after months of problems with the city’s utility billing. The problems stem from a conversion to a new software system that’s caused backlogged bills and widespread customer confusion and frustration.

Interviewed late Friday, Olson couldn’t recall Blanchard’s annual salary off hand, but estimated it was just under $90,000.

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