For 13 years, Zeb Hanner has used numbers to help balance a government through unstable times.
On Aug. 1, his run as assistant Davidson County manager will officially come to an end. Hanner, 58, is resigning to accept the position of city manager in Archdale.
“He has been a real asset to the county,” Commissioner Larry Potts said. “As he moved more into management, Zeb did an excellent job with everyone he worked with. We're going to truly miss him.”
Hanner will replace interim city manager Jerry Rothrock, who succeeded former Archdale City Manager Jerry Yarborough after he retired June 1.
When Hanner, a certified public accountant, agreed to become the county's budget director in 2001, he embarked on many difficult challenges, especially for someone without experience with a local government. Today, he finds himself in a much different position as a man with extensive knowledge and experience stepping into a role of leadership.
“My job's not to get the credit; my job is to help make it happen,” Hanner said. “I had no local government experience. My background was all corporate. [City manager] Robert Hyatt felt like it would bring a new perspective to bring in someone out of the private sector to do the budget.”
His expertise indeed brought the effect Hyatt desired. Among many other things, Hanner helped oversee projects that resulted in the establishment of several key structures, most recently a new middle school in northern Davidson County which will be followed by a new high school. These successes were accomplished all while maintaining the countywide property tax rate at 54 cents per $100 valuation.
“We've been able to maintain a flat tax rate. We've had a lot of successes with that, and we're very proud of that,” Hanner said. “We've been able to build schools, we've been able to add to our portfolios of buildings because of very wise decisions by commissioners.”
Though he defers much of the credit that comes with continuing to stabilize the tax rate in a county that has seen more than its fair share of economic struggles, Archdale recognized his skill set. As the city's new manager, Hanner will earn $124,000 annually.
“He's going to be a hard man to replace because of his qualifications,” Potts said. “He's been assistant county manager, as well as a chief financial officer. Archdale is going to be getting someone to manage their budget and their personnel all in one person.”
Among the duties Hanner leaves behind, the county must fill roles in preparation and administration of the county budget, supervision of several administrative departments, indirect supervision of other departments and assisting the county manager in the overall operations of government.
The Chair City native and 1974 Thomasville High School graduate acquitted himself as a man of many hats and is sure to utilize his unassuming nature to work on placing the Archdale community in a position to succeed. If the reception from the departed in Davidson County serves as any indication, the numbers should prove him well worth the investment.
“There's a good cast of characters here that carried me through and helped me along the way,” Hanner said. “Good commissioners, good department heads made my job a lot easier. It's amazing how well we get along here and the cooperation between various agencies.
“These last two or three days have almost made me regret leaving, because everybody has been so nice to me.”
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 847-9911, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.