MetroParks board member: Hefty raise, bonus only option for top leader

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MetroParks board member: Hefty raise, bonus only option for top leader

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Jonathan Granville, executive director of MetroParks of Butler County, recently received a new 25-month contract. He will receive a salary of $85,696 a year and was granted a $20,000 performance bonus. Granville spoke at the grand opening ceremony and announcement of new facilities at the Voice of America MetroPark in a partnership with West Chester Hospital in late 2014. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

A 20 percent pay raise and $20,000 bonus were the only terms the executive director of MetroParks of Butler County would agree to, a board member involved in the negotiations has told the Journal-News.

Executive Director Jonathan Granville’s new 25-month contract includes a salary of $85,696, up 20.01 percent from his previous salary of $71,406. In addition, he received a $20,000 performance bonus plus monthly car and cell phone allowances.

“He asked for more and these were the only terms he’d agree to … We have too many projects going on. It was the smartest thing we could do,” Gregory Amend, a Board of Park Commissioners member, said about the new contract.

“He’s done an incredible job for the district and is substantially under what his peers make,” said Amend, who was not at the Nov. 22 MetroParks board meeting when Granville’s new contract was approved but participated in prior discussions conducted in executive session.

Edward Dwyer, president of the Board of Park Commissioners, and board member Cynamon Trokhan did not return calls this week from the Journal-News for comment.

The three-person Board of Park Commissioners are appointed for three-year terms by Butler County Probate Court Judge Randy Rogers. The board members, who receive no compensation, are responsible for hiring an executive director who acts as the chief executive officer for the district.

“This (Granville’s new contract) was a decision that was not taken lightly,” Amend said. “It took two months to decide this, and it came to the last day.”

This past March, Butler County voters approved a six-year, 0.5-mill tax renewal and 0.2-mill tax increase for MetroParks. The levies cost property owners $24.50 per $100,000 of taxable value a year, which is broken down at $15.31 for the renewal and $9.19 for the additional millage.

Amend said Granville’s raise was not connected to the successful passage of the operating levy renewal and increase.

“It had nothing to do with that,” Amend said.

However, when Dwyer commented last week to the Journal-News about Granville’s raise, he noted that the executive director had put in many hours to ensure the passage of the levies.

During the levy campaign, MetroParks leaders projected levy expenditures as:

  • 63 percent for operational expenses such as maintenance, programming, utilities, safety, land stewardship and management.
  • 28 percent for capital improvements for construction of new facilities, local match for state and other grants, and for planning and design.
  • 9 percent for repairs and replacements such as updating worn-out infrastructure, playgrounds, restrooms, pavement, athletic fields, trails/walkways and buildings

Granville has said he intends to retire at the end of his new contract, which expires Jan. 15, 2019. He did not return calls from the Journal-News seeking comment.

Granville became MetroParks’ executive director in 2007 after serving in a similar position in Erie County. In 2013, he asked the board to amend his contract and requested a retire/rehire where he took a pay cut to $68,016 to protect other state retirement and insurance benefits, according to Amend. Granville then received a 5 percent merit increase in salary that brought his salary up to $71,406 and a $10,000 bonus. The board cited significant achievements when this was awarded in late 2014 and went into effect in February 2015.

Amend said all of the board members were opposed to the retire/rehire arrangement in 2013, but it is allowed by state law.

“From a philosophical view, it’s a bad policy,” Amend said. “We have a good guy and he’s done a very good job. We wanted to retain him, and he was willing to take a pay cut.”

Amend said park commissioners have been working over the past two years adjusting compensation to match industry standards to help in retaining staff at all levels, which was also included in their decision. He said other park districts have “poached” personnel from MetroParks in past years. Officials said higher compensation elsewhere was the main reason for employees leaving MetroParks.

“He’s marketable,” Amend said. “He could get a job anywhere.”

Even with the raise and bonus, Granville receives less compensation than his counterparts at other metro park districts in Ohio, according to a review of salaries by the Journal-News.

In comparison to a 2014 salary survey of park directors commissioned by the Five Rivers MetroParks District in Dayton, Granville’s new salary, excluding the performance bonus, would be among the lowest of the 13 park organizations surveyed. That survey did not include MetroParks of Butler County.

Granville’s new annual salary, excluding the performance bonus, would put him about the middle of the pack in comparison with 14 of the top directors and managers who work under the Butler County commissioners.

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, who has been critical of retire/rehire arrangements, said he initially had questions about Granville’s “unusually high” contract.

“It’s the law, and it’s not anything against someone taking advantage of it,” Reynolds said. “I would like to see the state address retire/rehire. I don’t think there are as many benefits as proponents say.”

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METROPARKS OF BUTLER COUNTY: BOARD OF PARK COMMISSIONERS

Ohio law provides for the creation of county-wide metropolitan park districts that are separate political subdivisions from the county government. A Board of Park Commissioners, who are appointed for three-year terms by the county probate court judge, set policy and budgets.

The board of park commissioners, who receive no compensation, hire an executive director who acts as the chief executive officer for the district.

Metro park districts do not receive funding from the county general fund nor does the county commission own park property or equipment. Metro park districts receive their funding from tax levies approved by voters as well as from state and federal grants and programs, revenue generated from program fees, equipment or facility rentals and from donations, sponsorships and trusts.

The Board of Park Commissioners for the MetroParks of Butler County include:

  • Edward Dwyer is the current board president. He was appointed in 2006 to complete an unexpired term and reappointed in 2013. His term currently expires Dec. 31. Butler County Probate Court Judge Randy Rogers said he intends to re-appoint Dwyer to a new three-year term on the board. Dwyer, who resides in West Chester Twp. with his wife and two children, is a senior vice president and chief risk officer with US Bank.
  • Cynamon Trokhan is the current board vice president. She was appointed in 2010 to complete an unexpired term. Trokhan was reappointed in 2012 and again in 2014. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2017. Trokhan resides in Hamilton with her husband and two daughters. She is an estate planning, corporate and real estate attorney with Parrish, Marcum, Hirka & Trokhan, LPA.
  • Gregory Amend has been a board member since January 1998 and is currently serving his seventh term. His term expires in 2018. A former Liberty Twp. trustee, he is the chairman of Valco Cincinnati.

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