She hired Burton in May 2020 to replace former Finance Director Tawana Keels who left the position abruptly on Feb. 7, after seven years leading the county’s finance department. There were 50 applicants for the top fiscal management job. This time around the county received 26 applications.
Boyko said after they find a finance director they will use the head hunter to find a new economic development director. The county hasn’t had a directorship level position in that area in a very long time. Development Director David Fehr, who also oversees the airport and a host of other duties has been in charge of economic development.
Burton resigned a month after Assistant County Administrator Scott Timmer quit to return to Fairfield as its city manager. He had only been on the job with the county six months. Part of his responsibilities included 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.
The economic development position isn’t to replace a particular person but to assume duties that have been handled by various people through the past several years and some new tasks.
“The position would facilitate an economic development program for the county,” Boyko said. “Working with the local jurisdictions and their economic development objectives, providing countywide resources to those townships or villages who don’t currently have an economic development professional.”
Commissioner Don Dixon said they have been relying mainly on the economic development organization REDI Cincinnati for new business leads. He said they have always been looking for an economic development director “of some sort, but they’re hard to find, in my opinion good qualified people.”
“I think we do need to have someone more in the field,” Dixon said. “Now we’re relying on REDI. We do get some calls into the Development Department to David, but he’s got enough to do.”
Commissioner T.C. Rogers agreed they haven’t found the right economic development person yet, but he said he and Dixon have the development acumen, so the county hasn’t suffered.
“Modestly speaking here, we are fortunate to have two development deal makers on the board right now who have put together a fantastic track record of making economic development of the county go forward in the most prudent manner...,” Rogers said. “I’d like to get one but I’m not in a hurry because we have other positions in the budget and finance and even assistant administrator which I think are more important.”
When Boyko was hand-picked by the commissioners in 2019, they gave her full autonomy in filling out her management team, however they obviously have input and must formally approve new hires. While the top finance job was posted almost immediately, the No. 2 position and economic development director positions have not been.
“Right now we’re going with what our highest need is,” Dixon said. “What position we need the most.”
Boyko said she needs to fill the other director positions before she concentrates on finding another second in command.
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said filling all three positions is vital. She said the immediate need for the finance director is obvious. With all the growth coming to the west side of the county spurred by Spooky Nook, they need to be ready with an economic development director who can help communities deal with it.
She said the other vacancies highlight the need for an assistant county administrator because Boyko is picking up the slack in a lot of areas “this really demonstrates the need for it.”.
“The assistant county administrator is critical,” Carpenter said. “As we look at what our current county administrator is doing filling in for multiple directors it’s not an acceptable position for us to be in. We have to have someone for back-up.”
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.
The county actually started looking for an assistant county administrator almost six years ago when Charlie Young was at the helm. After more than a year, and no consensus by the three commissioners, the search went on hiatus in 2017.
After dire pandemic predictions the finances would tank didn’t materialize, the county resumed the search and Timmer was hired last summer.