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Finance Director Departing, Town Names Interim

Friday, Feb. 12, 2021
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Town Finance Director Daphna Schwarts will be leaving to become finance director of the City of Mebane.

Town of Hillsborough Finance Director Daphna Schwartz will be leaving her position to become finance director of the City of Mebane.

“My time with the town has been challenging and rewarding,” Schwartz said. “I am thankful for the experience I have gained and the opportunity to serve this community over the past several years. I have an excellent staff, so I am confident my transition out of this role will be smooth and seamless for the residents of Hillsborough.”

Schwartz, who joined the town in August 2017, will work her last day Friday, Feb. 19.

‘Dramatic improvements’

“While it’s tough to lose a highly experienced local government finance professional, I’m grateful for the significant improvements Daphna and her team have made over the past three and a half years,” Town Manager Eric Peterson said. “We wish her well with the exciting opportunity she is pursuing. She initiated dramatic improvements to the internal controls, processes and oversight of the town’s financial systems.”

Among other functions, the Financial Services Department handles billing and collections for the town’s utility system, an area where Schwartz led major initiatives. “She led the effort to replace the FATHOM billing system that was plagued with errors, inefficiencies, and frustrated everyone in Hillsborough — customers and staff alike, then brought the billing operations back in-house,” Peterson said. “She was also part of the team that went through the bond rating and revenue bond issuing process to save the town significant money in financing the Phase 2 expansion of the West Fork Eno Reservoir.”

Reorganizing the department along separate billing and accounting functions was another initiative of Schwartz’s tenure with the town. “Compliance with audit standards and timeliness of producing the comprehensive annual financial report have seen significant advancements,” Peterson said. “In addition, she’s built a strong staff of experienced personnel that I’m confident will continue to build on their recent successes.”

Before working for the town, Schwartz was executive director of financial services and assistant finance officer for Guilford County Schools, where she worked for seven years.

Director search

Financial Analyst Keri Carnes will serve as interim finance director while the town conducts a search for a permanent head of the department. Carnes holds a master’s degree in public administration from UNC and has worked as a financial analyst for the town since September 2015.

“Keri is well qualified to step into the interim finance director role. She is well-versed on the accounting side of the operational house, yet regularly interacts with her co-workers who run the billing and collection operations,” Peterson said. “She has continued her professional development through courses at the UNC School of Government and other professional organizations. The financial services team is experienced, work well together, and will keep operations running smoothly during the transition.”

“Although I’m sad to see Daphna Schwartz leave Hillsborough, I am excited for the opportunity to serve the town in this important role,” Carnes said. “I hope to continue delivering the high level of customer service and financial responsibility citizens expect from the town.”

The town’s finance director oversees all aspects of the town’s financial operations; supervises the accounting, billing and collections, and meter reading functions; and oversees and participates in annual audit and budget processes. The town is currently advertising the position and hopes to have a permanent director in place by the time the current fiscal year closes out in June.