The city of Elizabeth City this week hired both a new public utilities director and a new finance director.

Interim City Manager Eddie Buffaloe announced Tuesday that City Council confirmed his appointment of Dwan A. Bell as city public utilities director and Evelyn Benton as finance director.

Benton, who had been serving as interim finance director since Suzanne Tungate’s resignation Oct. 31, started her new role as finance director on Tuesday.

Bell, who succeeds former public utilities director Amanda Boone, is slated to begin his duties Jan. 5.

Bell’s annual salary will be $90,000 and Benton’s will be $85,000. Upon a successful six-month performance evaluation Benton will receive a 2 percent increase.

Although new City Manager Montre Freeman isn’t expected to begin work in Elizabeth City until January, city officials determined it was important to fill the two department head positions now.

“Those are critical positions,” Buffaloe said Wednesday. “We made a a decision as city management and city council that we would go ahead and fill those positions.”

Bell earned a bachelor’s degree from Elizabeth City State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Alabama.

He has 19 years of experience, including 17 in Elizabeth City’s Public Utilities Department and recent stints as public works director in the eastern North Carolina towns of Selma and Hertford.

Buffaloe noted that Bell was selected through an assessment center conducted Nov. 17 that included interviews with department heads, a technical panel and peers; a budget presentation; and other exercises and meetings.

Benton previously served as interim finance director after then-Finance Director Sarah Blanchard’s departure from the city. She has worked for the Finance Department for the past 31 years.

Benton earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in banking and finance from ECSU.

“Her 31 years of experience with the city of Elizabeth City Finance Department have been impeccable,” Buffaloe said.

Benton’s duties have included oversight of planning, development and administration of the city’s finances, capital purchases, external audits, and supporting all city department budgets.

“Benton is the best candidate and fit for this organization now and moving forward,” Buffaloe said.