Elizabeth City Finance Director fired

Posted at 12:23 PM, Apr 07, 2017

ELIZABETH CITY, NC. – Elizabeth City's City Manager has fired their Finance Director, Sarah Blanchard.

Sarah Blanchard, former Elizabeth City Finance Director

City Manager Richard Olson made the announcement to city council on Thursday night.

This all comes after the city switched to a new billing software for utility customers.

Customers tell News 3 since the software conversion - they've had many problems.

Bridget Colbert said she didn't get billed for three months then started getting two a month in January.

Colbert said she overpaid almost $300 on her bill.

“I would just go up there and pay because in this city if you don’t pay within ten days - you’re cut off. There’s no grace period," Colbert said.

In a memorandum presented to the council, Olson stated the reasoning behind terminating Blanchard was "for cause".

He said it didn’t involve any misappropriation of funds.

The city manager said he based his decision on the list below:

  1. Her inability to oversee the utility billing software conversion;
  2. Providing me false or less-than-complete information on the utility billing conversion;
  3. Her autocratic management style, which limits productive feedback from her subordinates;
  4. Failure to provide clear direction to her staff; and
  5. Misleading me about the extent of the utility billing problems.

Olson said Blanchard had been given opportunities to retire but she refused to do so.

Colbert also wants Olson held accountable.

"I hope the city manager isn`t trying to throw her under the bus. I would like to think he knew more what was going it - especially as bad as it is," she said.

Olson says customers should be back on their normal billing cycle in the coming months.