Board made a wise move with hire

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Congratulations to Brunswick County Commissioners for not wasting $24,000 of taxpayers’ money on a search for a new county manager when the best qualified candidate was already in-house.
Commissioners promoted Ann Hardy, the 54-year-old interim county manager to the full-time job. She had been county finance director for nine years.
For one thing, she already knows the 26 department heads by name, not to mention all the other county employees and other Brunswick County residents she has gotten to know during her almost 20 years living in Brunswick County.
More importantly, her work as county finance director—keeping the books on what amounts to a multimillion-dollar corporation—reportedly has been stellar. She did that job during the best of times (2005) and the worst of times (2008).
Hardy grew up in Walnut Cove near Winston-Salem. She graduated from Salem College in 1981 with a degree in economics management. Her husband, Steve Hardy, was a nuclear engineer for Progress Energy/CPL/Duke Energy for 30 years. Now he consults independently in the nuclear industry. The couple lives in Winding River.
Their daughter, Ashley, 27, is fiscal analyst for a corporation in Charlotte. Their son, Tyler, 23, just graduated from Cape Fear Community College as a nuclear engineering technician.
Ann Hardy thinks being Brunswick County’s finance director helped prepare her to be county manager.
“Finance oversight gives you in-depth knowledge of every department,” she said. “What the county and the nation went through since 2008 has been unprecedented. To be able to manage resources during challenging times in our nation’s history and our county’s history required the ability to make difficult decisions, in-depth analysis and seeking a solution that would be fair to the taxpayers and the employees.
“I think we cut our budget $12 million in 2009 and were still able to provide services.
“We’re still working through the impact to our county. That uniquely would qualify somebody to know the issues and follow through in the coming years with the impact that happened during the recession.”
Before taking the county finance director post, Hardy worked with Brunswick County Schools for 10 years as assistant superintendent of fiscal operations and as public information officer. Public schools are still the largest beneficiary of taxpayer dollars in this county.
Hardy has firsthand knowledge of the school system and of county government. She said she enjoys working with the employees.
“I have a strong desire to listen to them, understand their challenges and engage them in the solutions,” she said.
We think the county made a good “hire” in Ann Hardy.