After significant departures, Butler County still seeks new assistant administrator (not administrative assistant)

The Government Services Center in Hamilton, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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The Government Services Center in Hamilton, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

More than a year ago, the Butler County commissioners announced they were looking for an assistant county administrator. They’re still looking, but they might have someone in their sights.

The county advertised the job last year, and almost 250 people — including two former pro football players, a bartender, an aircraft inspector, many administrative assistants and the county’s finance director — applied for the new administrative position.

A good number — almost half — apparently thought the $81,244-a-year job was for an administrative assistant, not a management position.

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The commissioners interviewed six people for the job, including Water and Sewer Department Assistant Director Sue Vance, Finance Director Tawana Keels and Mike McNamara, who runs the land bank and port authority. After the interviews, the commissioners could not come to a consensus on one person, so the hunt took a hiatus.

The commissioners are keeping their future plans pretty close to the vest, but both Don Dixon and T.C. Rogers mentioned promoting from within as a possible next step.

“We’re looking to find a person that just fits into the organization,” Dixon said. “We have some options of moving some staff around and bringing somebody up, that’s not been ruled out completely. But then we have to find someone to replace that position. We’re just looking right now.”

Rogers said much the same thing.

“We do have an option, it’s like a two-part option and we haven’t fulfilled the one part yet,” he said.

Talk of needing a second in command surfaced after the county lost two leaders in a short amount of time. In less than a year the county lost seven top officials.

MORE: Butler County loses seven top officials in less than a year

The first county leader to leave was Purchasing and Asset Director Randy Quisenberry, who left in November for a job at Council on Aging for Southwest Ohio. Former Assistant JFS Director Jerome Kearns died suddenly just before Christmas. Former JFS Executive Director Ray Pater resigned in February after a two-month leave of absence. Ron Davis, who ran the airport, was fired in June. Water and Sewer Director Bob Leventry retired in August, and Chuck Demidovich, administrator at the county nursing home, retired in September.

The concern was if anything happened to County Administrator Charlie Young, who would step up to lead? Young also has a say in who will serve by his side, and he knows what talents he is seeking.

“Experience, sound reasoning and decision-making skills, the ability to cooperate and work either in a big group or team settings,” Young said.

He said part of the problem is finding the right fit to handle the biggest and most important issues the county not only is facing now, but unknowns that always crop up.

“What’s needed in a position really kind of depends a whole lot about what’s going on at that time,” Young said. “I don’t mean at that minute or even that year but over the next three or four years, what is it exactly that’s needed in a position.”

The commissioners have also said the position will be a good investment for the residents, who had to suffer through the days when the county was in fiscal peril. Dixon said previously the county wants to make sure their strong fiscal position remains steady, and the person hired for this position can help with that.

HOW WE GOT HERE: Gone are the days of bloated budgets

“Knock on wood, we’ve been very successful the last four or five years, but we all know where we came from and we’re not going to go back there,” Dixon said. “I think it’s an investment, it’s just not adding personnel, it’s not that, it’s really an integral part of staying on track of the plan we’ve got going.”

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said they have been able to fill some other positions within their office to lighten Young’s load a little bit, they need to get back to trying to fill the opening at the top.

“We’ve filled some of these other positions where Charlie can hand off some administrative work. That’s working right now, it’s not ideal,” Carpenter said. “But as soon as we gear up for that again we will be looking.”

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