Bennett to oversee Delaware’s finances


By Dillon Davis - [email protected]



Bennett

Bennett


Dawn Bennett has been tabbed to serve as the City of Delaware’s newest director of finance.

Bennett’s hiring was announced by the city on Aug. 16, and she was formally introduced during her first council meeting on Aug. 22. She takes over for Justin Nahvi, who served in the role since January 2020 before leaving to take a new position in May.

“We are extremely excited to have Dawn join our team,” City Manager Tom Homan said in a release announcing the hire. “Her experience and knowledge will be instrumental in helping ensure the city of Delaware remains on sound financial footing.”

Prior to coming to Delaware, Bennett’s career had largely been centered in public education. Most recently, she served as a budget analyst with Columbus City Schools. Her experience also includes stints as the chief financial officer and treasurer at Yellow Springs Schools from 2010-19 and at Greenon Local Schools from 1996-2010.

As Bennett recently began looking for more of an executive-level position, her search led her outside the public education arena. Bennett said she did considerable research on the role of a city finance director while applying for multiple positions, and she also received valuable encouragement from a colleague who had experience in both settings.

“One of the biggest catalysts (for the transition) was a woman I worked with at Columbus City Schools,” Bennett told The Gazette. “She had just come from being the finance director with the City of Powell, and she had been a school treasurer before. I talked to her about the similarities of the job and the differences, and she told me I’d be just fine being a city finance director.”

After a series of interviews in Delaware that spanned “several months,” according to Bennett, she was offered the job by Homan and had already been sold on the position when she accepted.

“When Tom finally offered it to me, I’d already been to Delaware several times, I’d met a lot of the people, and it just seemed like it was going to be a great place to work. I’ve been here two weeks, and it’s been awesome,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the acclimation process over the past two weeks has been “great,” specifically because “everyone here wants to work together.” She admitted that wasn’t always the case in past school roles because it’s getting increasingly difficult to educate kids, leading to environments in school administrations that don’t foster much happiness.

“Everyone here (in Delaware), they want to help each other, they want to show me things and take me around,” she said. “It’s just been a very welcoming environment. I haven’t been the one to have to extend the olive branch because they’re all coming to me. We’ve had a lot of meetings and a lot of things going on, so I’ve been very busy learning all kinds of new things.”

In Delaware, Bennett will oversee an annual operating budget of approximately $71 million and a combined budget of $119.6 million. Like so many municipalities, Delaware is facing a tight budget in the years to come as it tries to keep up with a community that continues to grow. Bennett said she factored in the budget concerns facing the city when considering the role, but throughout her extensive time working in schools, she’s become well-adept at dealing with those concerns.

“I’ve worked with schools for so long, and I was in schools during the last recession when all of them had a five-year forecast that was showing negative numbers,” she said. “So, usually, you do a five-year forecast based on what you know today. I always take five-year forecasts with a grain of salt because things are going to change. You’re going to do constant manipulation to make sure you are trying to always get more revenues and keep your expenditures down, so it was not intimidating. We all have the same goal of wanting to keep the city afloat, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable with that at all.”

Bennett added the work and “constant planning” is already underway on the budget and how they’re going to “hedge some of these deficits.”

She went on to say, “I’m very accustomed to having to deal with red balances and having to try and balance those, so the more familiar I become with the books, I really want to be able to help see where we can save money, where we can have more process efficiency.

“And I’ve also been part of budget reductions. If that’s what we have to do, then that’s what we have to do. I’ve also been part of finding additional revenue and revenue sources, so we’ll work together on any type of grant funding we can get and if we have to talk about additional income tax or a property tax levy, or higher charges for services. I’m looking to hopefully get to a point very soon, in the next year, where we don’t project a red balance. That’s my priority right now.”

Bennett
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/09/web1_Bennett-mug.jpgBennett

By Dillon Davis

[email protected]

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.