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County to begin search to replace Harmon

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer
Lincoln County officials are preparing to start the process of filling the position that has belonged to Leon Harmon, director of the Finance Department, for quite some time.
As the Times-News previously reported, Harmon will be stepping down come the end of January after 38 years with the county’s finance office. County Manager George Wood announced Harmon’s pending retirement at the Nov. 21 meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, during which both Wood and the board thanked him for his many years of service.
At the time, Harmon told the Times-News that he had notified Wood of his decision on Nov. 10.
While speaking with the Times-News on Thursday, Wood said he hopes to have a replacement on board, if all goes as planned, by April 1, with an announcement potentially expected in March.
The county has already begun advertising for the position both locally and with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and the League of Municipalities. Additionally, Wood said one or two in-house candidates are being encouraged to apply.
Beginning on Feb. 1, Scott Cook, currently the department’s chief accountant, will fill in as the interim finance director, said Wood.
In the meantime, applications are being reviewed, and interviews will tentatively start in late January. Wood added that with December not being a good time to conduct interviews, the county decided to postpone that procedure until the next month.
He also noted that candidates will ideally have prior experience as either a finance director or an assistant finance director for counties or cities within North Carolina, specifically pointing out that they would then be familiar with the state’s budgeting laws.
Eventually, the list of candidates will be whittled down to four or five finalists, who will then undergo additional interview analyses and background checks by the Sheriff’s Office, said Wood.
From a timing standpoint, he said it will be difficult because many candidates from the state will likely be working on budgets for the next fiscal year over the coming months. Being tied up with that task could delay their availability, especially when relocation time is factored in.
Nonetheless, Wood hopes the process won’t “drag into April” and that the selected candidate will be on board before then.

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