Butler County again hunting for second-in-command

Butler County Government Services Center
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Butler County Government Services Center

Butler County is once again in the hunt for a new second-in-command, but commissioners say there is no big rush to fill the void because the county is in the best shape it has ever been in.

After only six months on the job, Assistant County Administrator Scott Timmer quit to return to Fairfield as its city manager. His restart date with the city is Feb. 7 and he’ll be earning $165,000 — which is $30,000 more than the county was paying him.

Commissioner Don Dixon, whose idea it was to consider Timmer for the No. 2 position, said they are in no rush to refill the position.

“We’ll look around, there’s no urgency here,” Dixon told the Journal-News. “The county’s in the best shape it’s ever been in ever, both financially and operational wise. One person doesn’t make the operation run, I could be gone tomorrow and things would go right on. There’s no one person that can cause the county to somehow not continue to run as fiscally responsible as we have.”

County officials were surprised by the abrupt departure, “That was a surprise to us we didn’t know he was talking to city of Fairfield again but you have to do what’s best for you, so I wish him well,” Commissioner T.C. Rogers said.

Dixon also said he wasn’t miffed by Timmer’s job-hopping.

“I never get upset with somebody who has the opportunity to improve their economic income,” Dixon said. “So we have a lot of people that come here and we train and they learn certain skill sets and then they have an opportunity to move up, move over or go somewhere else that doesn’t upset me because that’s the way the world works.”

ExploreFairfield hires Scott Timmer to fill city manager role

Rogers agreed they don’t need to jump on finding a replacement and he wouldn’t mind testing the waters by posting the position to see who is out there. When County Administrator Judi Boyko was hand-picked by the commissioners in 2019, they gave her full autonomy in filling out her management team.

She said the resignation was so sudden she hasn’t really had time to think about next steps. She definitely wants to replace Timmer “but no one currently comes to mind.”

“Clearly having another executive leader on the management team was a tremendous benefit to the organization and to me personally, so I recognize the value and I certainly want to fill that position,” Boyko said. “I’m willing to be diligent and take the time necessary to attract the right candidate for the long term.”

The county actually started looking for an assistant county administrator almost six years ago when Charlie Young was at the helm. They said the county is just too large and complex not to have a No. 2. After more than a year, and no consensus by the three commissioners, the search went on hiatus in 2017.

Back then 233 people applied to the job posting. A few of the applicants included an aircraft inspector for Delta, two former football players — one who played in a Super Bowl — a bartender, and many administrative assistants.

Boyko intended to hire an assistant administrator and asset and purchasing director in 2020, but then the coronavirus pandemic descended. When early projections had the county potentially losing $20 million in general fund revenues, Boyko put her candidate search on hold but everyone agreed after the dire predictions didn’t materialize, it was time to jump-start the process. She filled both positions last year.

When asked about the salary, since Timmer will be making significantly more with the city, Boyko said it will depend on the candidate.

“Salary needs to be commensurate with experience, knowledge and qualifications in public administration,” she said. “So I can’t really say the salary was not competitive.”

Boyko and her team are responsible for a total county budget of $505.5 million, the 600-some employees and 14 departments under the commissioners’ direct control and interacting with 15 other elected offices independent boards.

According to the job description, Timmer was responsible for helping Boyko develop “long-term strategic plans, policies and procedures and performance measurements to enhance county programs and services.” New to the position description was the emphasis on economic development and direct involvement with the Butler County Port Authority as its director — a position that has been vacant since August 2020.

Development Director David Fehr, who has been manning the port authority, said he has been bringing Timmer up to speed on the port business but he hadn’t yet taken the reins of that agency, the board was set to officially name Timmer director in March.

“We were in that process but in that short amount of time we weren’t able to transition everything over,” Fehr said.

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