Culver names interim Finance Director

Leslie Martin Lewis

County Executive Bob Culver on Monday named county government veteran Dawn Mitchell Parks to serve as Acting Director of Finance.

A Pittsville resident and North Carolina State University graduate, Parks has worked for the county for the past 12 years. She has served as Financial Systems Administrator and Assistant Director of Finance for Operations. Since November 2015, she has been the county’s Systems Project Manager.

She has served in the Acting Finance Director role previously, holding down the post between December 2014 and Leslie Martin Lewis’ arrival in March 2015.

In a news release, Culver said: “Dawn has lots of firsthand experience in Wicomico County’s Finance Department that will fit well with this appointment.”

On Thursday, Culver ousted Lewis, his Finance Director of last two years. Culver still has not made an official announcement about her departure, but on Friday confirmed public rumors that Lewis had been terminated.

Senior county official were informed by email on Thursday that Lewis had “resigned, effective immediately.” While citing personnel rules in declining to discuss details on Friday, Culver said he asked for Lewis’ resignation.

“I asked for her resignation and when she refused, I fired her,” Culver said.

Culver said he “was not getting into details” about what led to the ouster, but offered he had “lost confidence” in her performance.

“I was very sorry to have to do that,” Culver said of the termination.

Attempts to reach Lewis for comment have thus far been unsuccessful. She lives near Accomac on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

In March 2015, Lewis was appointed to replace Andrew Mackel, whom Culver dismissed shortly after assuming office in December 2014. Before working in Wicomico, Lewis served as Northampton County’s Finance Director, working in the county seat of Eastville, Va.

A certified public accountant who graduated from Virginia Tech in 1986 with a bachelor’s in accounting, Lewis was Culver’s first official hire within his top administrative ranks.

In the two-plus years that Lewis held the position, Culver has only publicly said positive things about Lewis. Last year he was highly complimentary of her handling of the county’s annual tax sale, in which Lewis and the Finance Office sought to directly collect unpaid property taxes, rather than rely on public advertising.

He also praised her performance to County Council members, following the completion of last year’s budget. On her resume, Lewis has nearly 30 years of financial experience in the private and public sector and also has extensive experience in Financial Operations Management.

Culver said Lewis’ work on the fiscal 2018 budget was complete and the spending plan is now in the County Council’s hands. Council members are expected to further discuss the budget, which takes effect July 1, on Thursday.

 

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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