Woodstock hires new finance director

By Alex Bridges

Woodstock’s new finance director says the job drew him back to public service after years in the private sector.

John B. O’Neill brings experience as a financial manager in both local government and the private sector, according to a news release issued Friday. O’Neill begins his job on Sept. 8.

“I think the planets and the stars just aligned themselves perfectly,” O’Neill said. “I started working in the private sector and I’ve enjoyed it but I don’t get the same sense and satisfaction that I got when I worked in local government.

“It just seems to me that local government is like the closest level of government service to folks and where you can have the biggest impact,” O’Neill added. “So when an opportunity presented itself that was fairly close to home … I felt like I could be of some help to them so I returned to that sense of fulfillment.”

O’Neill, 63, replaces Mandy Belyea, who recently took the finance director position with Shenandoah County. He will make a salary of $70,000 — slightly less than his predecessor, Town Manager Reid Wodicka said Friday. The town received 12 applications for the position and staff interviewed three candidates, Wodicka said.

“What made [O’Neill] rise to the top was just the vast amount of experience he has in local government finance as well as some of his additional credentials related to his experience with the Government Finance Officers’ Association,” O’Neill said. “His experience fits his financial goals as an organization.”

O’Neill has worked as the chief financial manager for Allen Properties in Winchester for the past five years. Prior to that position, O’Neill served as the director of finance for Front Royal, from 1986 to 2004, and then the borough of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 2004-2008.

O’Neill served as budget reviewer for the Government Finance Officers Association for more than 10 years. He also taught as an adjunct instructor in the areas of finance and technology at Lord Fairfax Community College and Mountain State University.

The town opened the job to people with different areas of experience, Wodicka said. Applicants with experience in municipal finance as well as certified public accountants also helped. O’Neill has been a certified public accountant in the past and plans to become recertified for his role with the town, Wodicka said.

O’Neill holds a graduate certificate in public administration from Shenandoah University. He received a master of business administration from Shenandoah University in 2003. He received his bachelor of science in business administration from George Mason University.

O’Neill’s volunteer experience in the community includes the Association of Government Accountants, the Capital Tax Collection Bureau, the Carlisle Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, the Boys Scouts of America, the United Way and Parks and Recreation.

O’Neill and his wife, Joannie, live in Strasburg. The O’Neills have three daughters and four grandchildren, all of whom live in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com