Butler County close to hiring new economic development administrator: How that will help

Butler County is working to hire an economic development administrator before the departure of another official who can help the new hire transition to running both the port authority and land bank next year.

Development Director David Fehr said the county has received 43 applications for the new position that pays $64,979 to $92,331 annually.

Community Stabilization Administrator Kathy Dudley will lose her position leading the land bank at year’s end. The move comes in the wake of former Port Authority executive director Mike McNamara’s resignation last month. McNamara ran both entities for two years until the commissioners hired Dudley in 2018.

Dudley is making $83,779 and McNamara had hit the top of the pay range of $64,979 to $92,331 for his position.

“Hopefully we can get this person in here so there’s a little bit of overlap,” Fehr said. “Kathy can kind of show the new person how the land bank works is the goal.”

The position is unique in that both the land bank and the port authority are governed by their own independent boards, but this person will be a county commissioners' employee. Those boards contributed to Dudley’s and McNamara’s salaries, and the cities of Hamilton and Middletown — which benefited most from the land bank — also paid part of Dudley’s salary.

Fehr said that arrangement will continue but with possible modifications.

“The land bank and the cities have been contributing to some of that salary so we just want to look at what the duties are and are we getting the right distribution,” Fehr said. “It’s just a good time to kind of take a step back.”

The reason the county is consolidating the management position over the land bank and port authority is the federal program that fueled hundreds of eyesore demolitions has ended.

Dudley, an attorney who handled land bank business as Hamilton’s assistant law director before she was laid off there, told the Journal-News she has no interest in running both entities. Port authorities help finance large job-creating business projects, and land banks assist in taking down blighted properties.

With $2.7 million it received in Moving Ohio Forward grants from the state, Butler County formed a land bank in 2012 to deal with blighted buildings. Dudley said 465 bad buildings were torn down for $3.14 million in Hamilton and Middletown under that program.

Then the county was awarded $4.3 million in federal Hardest Hit Funds for the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP) beginning in 2014. That program ends this year. The only funding source left, unless new federal or state funding materializes, is Delinquent Tax and Assessment Collection (DTAC) funds. There is a $400,000 DTAC bank balance, according to Dudley.

County Treasurer Nancy Nix, who chairs the land bank, said she is glad Dudley will be able tie up some loose ends with very complicated federal NIP program before she she exits.

“We’re very glad that that will all be squared away before the new hire takes place,” Nix said. “And I don’t imagine that the land bank part of the job will be near what it’s been for Kathy or Mike with the NIP program. It’s basically tying up some loose ends and overseeing the DTAC program which is not all that involved.”

Denise Quinn, chairwoman of the port authority, said she has no qualms about the shared position.

“I’m not worried about it, I’ve talked to other board members and there doesn’t seem to be any concern there either,” Quinn said. “I think it’s probably a good fit that the individual will be able to actually cover both.”

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