Harold B. Thomas of Newport, DOT’s assistant ferry operations director, was promoted to the top job Friday.
“He worked his way up through the ranks, and I am sure he will serve the state’s coastal residents and our visitors with integrity and determination,” Paul Morris, DOT deputy secretary for transit, said in a news release.
Thomas, 44, will be paid $84,587 a year. He joined the DOT Ferry Division in 1994 as a ferry crew member. He has served as assistant director for operations since March 2010, with a salary recently pegged at $56,158.
Finch, a retired Coast Guard officer, was fired in June 2010 after 55 turbulent days as ferry director. Finch said he ran into problems of nepotism, payroll padding and questionable spending, and he complained that powerful political interests prevented him from making changes.
DOT officials said they fired Finch because of personality conflicts with his staff, and because he had fallen behind on a business plan for the agency and its 600 employees. The state auditor said DOT should reduce overtime spending and stop violating its rules on hiring employees’ relatives, and DOT said it made changes to improve operations.
Campaign finance records show that Thomas contributed $500 to the campaign of Gov. Bev Perdue in 2008.