While the city government has weathered many changes in Mount Airy over the past 22 years, with council members, city managers and other top officials coming and going — one constant has been Finance Director John Overton.
But Overton’s long association with the municipality will end on Jan. 4 when he resigns to become finance director for the city of Lexington.
Since joining the Mount Airy staff in the early 1990s, Overton basically has served as an in-house accountant, playing a key role in safeguarding public assets, forecasting trends and helping the municipality maintain a solid financial position.
Overton’s leadership has resulted in Mount Airy receiving the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 20 straight years. Awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, it is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and public disclosure.
Along the way, Overton worked under four city managers, plus those serving on an interim basis, and numerous members of the board of commissioners.
Present City Manager Barbara Jones, in announcing Overton’s resignation, acknowledged the void his departure will bring.
“John has been an asset to this city,” stated Jones, who as city manager and other positions she’s held has worked with Overton for his entire 22-year tenure here. “He has served in his role as finance director with integrity and with the highest level of accountability.”
Although the city manager has ultimate responsibility for the municipality’s budget, Jones said Overton has been a huge part of this function over the years.
“The city manager cannot do that alone,” Jones added. “The city manager and city finance director have a real close relationship of working together — and then as far as preparing the budget, we both kind of work hand in hand on that.”
Numbers Tell “A Story”
Some might view dealing with finances and accounting procedures as a tedious function, but Overton sees something else when viewing a budget breakdown or list of figures.
“Really, the financial statements tell a story — they paint a picture of what is going on,” he said Friday regarding various expenditures and how they are a vision of what the manager and council are trying to accomplish in the city.
“It’s representative of what is being done.”
Overton, 53, who now oversees a Finance Department consisting of about nine employees, including himself and the city’s billing and collections personnel, will be supervising a slightly larger operation in Lexington, a city of about 19,000 residents.
The job change also will mean a little shorter commuting distance to work for Overton, who lives in Winston-Salem, which is 20 miles north of Lexington.
As the city manager, Jones is sad to see Overton leave, but understands what the new position in Lexington means for the longtime finance director. “It’s a good opportunity for him,” she said.
“He is simply a wonderful person and will be missed in this organization. I wish him the best.”
Jones added that the selection process for Mount Airy’s next finance director for would begin “immediately.”
In the interim, Pam Stone will serve as finance director, the city manager said.
Stone has been with the municipality for the past 20 years as accounting manager, working directly with Overton and serving as second in command for the Finance Department. Stone received a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she majored in accounting.
Before her service with the city of Mount Airy, Stone worked with Haynes, Strand and Company as a staff accountant and continues to maintain her certified public accountant (CPA) license.
Jones believes Stone is “very capable” of continuing the high standards of accounting and integrity for city government due to helping manage the Finance Department and gaining a thorough understanding of its operations.
“I am excited to have her fill this role in the interim.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.