After two decades with the City of Derby, Finance Director Jean Epperson is now counting the days until her last budget workshop – which is due to officially retire in mid-June.
Epperson joined the city staff in January 2000 after several years working in the private sector (Rohm and Haas, JI Case) and as an assistant professor of finance for local universities. She admitted that the close-knit nature of the department won her over.
“I could have gone to work for what was Boeing at the time, but it’s such a huge company. What I love about the size of Derby is that you take a project from start to finish and I really enjoy the people I work with; they’re my work family,” Epperson said. “There’s a team atmosphere here and you really care about those people.”
Prior to Derby, Epperson worked for the city of Wichita and her first job after graduating from Kansas State University was as city clerk/director of finance in Atchison, where she met her husband. They then moved to the Wichita area so Epperson could complete his Masters of Business Administration at Wichita State University.
The Bennington native admitted it was a Kansas State professor who helped shape the career path she went on.
“We had a great teacher who made finance fun, which not many people think finance is fun. That lit the fire,” Epperson said.
Among Epperson’s accomplishments as Derby’s chief financial officer, he raised the town’s bond rating to AA, with town management noting that his sound fiscal management and policing practices leave Derby in excellent shape financial.
Respecting the hard work of his fellow city staff, Epperson said they were all committed to completing their plans. For her, this means making sure the city is insured, that she has her assets invested, that she is not the target of fraud, etc., so that nothing bad happens under her watch. Most importantly, perhaps, she said all budget voting matters are taken seriously to honor funding requests voted on by Derby residents and ensure appropriate funding methods.
“I have always seen my role as a protector of community assets; it’s part of what finance does,” Epperson said. “You try to be good stewards of public money because people have entrusted it to you, and once you’ve broken that trust, it’s very hard to regain it.”
Going into retirement, Epperson said she plans to spend more time in her garden, at Derby Leisure Center and expects her new status to lead to more voluntary work with her church.
Over the years, Epperson said she was proud to see Derby’s transformation and the city’s investment in public infrastructure reflected in facilities such as the Town Hall, Library, Warren Riverview Park and more. She said she will miss the people who leave the most, given her commitment to the community, but she feels confident in her job as well as in the abilities of those who remain in charge – like Megan Sneller, a current employee of the finances of the city which should take over Epperson. role.
“What I want to do is leave her in the best possible position and know that Derby is a dynamic and growing city and we want to do the best we can with what has been entrusted to us. There are challenges to overcome as the budget law changes. We don’t know what the future holds for inflation. Hopefully we are positioned as best we can right now and can meet these challenges,” Epperson said. “I’m glad there’s someone behind me who can come in with a fresh look, and she has that attitude.”
“Jean is one of a kind and will be greatly missed,” said City Manager Kiel Mangus. “We appreciated not only his knowledge and expertise, but also his friendly and patient attitude. She has been a tremendous asset to the Derby community and I am happy for her and wish her nothing but the best as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.