Columbus has hired Deliah Vaughn, a health services controller in Tunica County as its new chief financial officer.
During Tuesday’s meeting, councilmen voted 4-2 to hire Vaughn. Her start date and salary were unclear as of press time, but the position was advertised with an annual salary between $70,000 and $75,000.
Vaughn and was one of only two candidates to apply who met the minimum education requirement for the position and the only one to meet the city’s advertised requirement of at least five years experience in governmental accounting.
Councilmen Joseph Mickens (Ward 2) and Bill Gavin (Ward 6) opposed Vaughn’s hiring, saying they would rather readvertise the position to increase the pool of candidates.
Vaughn has worked as Tunica County Healthcare Authority Controller since 2017 and served as Tunica County controller before that. She will replace Milton Rawle, who resigned in February amid an investigation into his management of city finances. Rawle had worked for the city since 2013.
After Rawle resigned, Mike Crowder, a former Columbus resident and certified public accountant, was hired as a consultant to perform CFO duties until a replacement was hired.
Before voting to hire Vaughn, councilmen debated whether they could confidently choose a candidate right for the job given the city only received six total applications for the job — four of which were unqualified. Gavin said he had reservations about voting to hire Vaughn, not because of her qualifications, but because he thought the city should have a wider pool of candidates. He suggested the city readvertise the job with the goal of attracting more candidates.
“I’m sure she’s a really nice woman and she seems like a really good candidate,” he said. “But what if there’s someone who’s a better fit that we haven’t heard from?”
“I’ve wrestled with this and … I’d rather select apples and apples than apples and oranges,” he said. “She may be perfect for us, we don’t know, but I’d like to see more options.”
Councilman Charlie Box, Ward 3, who was on the committee interviewing CFO candidates, disagreed. He said Vaughn’s “painstaking” interview led him to conclude she was the right applicant for the job, despite the small pool of candidates, and the city’s need for a CFO isn’t going to change, no matter how many applicants the city received.
“We raked her over the coals and … did our due diligence,” Box said. “I feel very confident in her abilities.
“If we had 10 more (candidates), we’d interview them … but we’re up against a wall as far as finding someone to keep our books,” he added. “Quite frankly, we need to get someone in here because … I think Mr. Crowder wants to go home.”
The Dispatch could not reach Vaughn for comment by press time.