By Clint Parker
Woodfin – The person Woodfin has chosen to lead the town is not unknown to the mayor who formerly worked with the new incoming town administrator at Buncombe County. Eric Hardy will start his job as the Woodfin Town Administrator, which will be his first-ever in that position, on July 1 was the Performance Manager in the Buncombe County Finance Department. The Tribune interviewed Hardy about his roots, past employment, family and his new position at Woodfin.
Hardy, a native of Ohio, made his way to North Carolina, where he married and settled in the eastern part of the state back in the 1980s. “I started working in local government after about 10 years of working in the private sector and have worked my way west in the state.” Hardy started with the City of New Bern, then Wilson and Charlotte, with a short detour into Rock Hill, SC. He then went to Union County and the Town of Davidson.
“The Town of Davidson is probably the most relevant to the work I’m anticipating in Woodfin,” said Hardy, who likes small-town work because of the variety it offers. “I’m really anxious to dig back in on that level. It’s probably one of the most awarding experiences of my career.”
Personal changes in his life lead him to the area where he started working for the City of Asheville for about three and a half years before working for the county for the last six years. “I had worked with the [Woodfin] mayor, Jerry, when he was a county employee also and formed a pretty good relationship with him and really liked Jerry a great deal and was very interested in Woodfin. I live just adjunct to and am actually on Woodfin Water.”
Hardy, who’s in his 50s, has two grown daughters (a hairdresser and a school teacher), and after his divorce, he moved to Asheville, where he met and married his now-husband.
According to Hardy, he believes the town’s biggest challenge will be finances. “Where investments are going will tell you where the priorities of the town tend to be,” he said. He plans to look at the town’s historic spending and the budget is passed on June 26 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Hardy also hopes to use his knowledge gained in the last few years with the county to help with the town employees’ health insurance needs, which came up at the last town commissioners meeting. He says the “800-pound gorilla in the room right now is parks and greenways.” He wants to get up to speed on all documents dealing with everything from the bond referendum to agreements with the county to get a full understanding of where the project stands.
Hardy is also familiar with the town’s Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) district, as he aided the town’s former administrator with the TIF district. The district covers the Reynolds Village development and has been a problem for Woodfin over the last few years. Hardy will hopefully be able to help the town navigate the TIF challenge.