Butler County loses another leadership team member

Butler County Finance Director Angel Burton has tendered her resignation to work closer to her Clermont County home and officials have differing views on how to replenish their depleted leadership team.

Burton gave her two-week notice on Feb. 2, about a month after former assistant county administrator Scott Timmer quit to take the top spot in Fairfield. Burton has accepted the finance director job at Clermont Senior Services.

“In addition to continuing to serve in a public-sector/non-profit finance role, I will be working within my local community, serving an organization and population that are very near to me heart,” Burton wrote.

County Administrator Judi Boyko 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.

Human Resources Director Laurie Murphy posted the finance director position on Tuesday and said she has received four applications.

Boyko said Burton will be missed.

“Angel and her talents and capabilities have been instrumental in continuing the commitment to Butler County’s strong financial stability and solvency attributed to the Board of Commissioners’ leadership and approach to fiscal responsibility,” Boyko said.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said he was surprised Burton resigned, “she was doing a fine job, she never left because there was an argument or a blow up, pretty benign.” He said if it had to happen the timing is right because budget preparations don’t ramp for a few months.

The county finances were challenging several years ago but it is sitting in an enviable financial position with general fund revenues expected to reach $116 million versus expenses of $107 million and a very healthy $119.7 million beginning bank balance this year. The commissioners also approved an $18.5 million property tax rollback for next year which will save taxpayers about $67 per $100,000 in assessed value.

The county had a difficult time filling the position given the world was in the middle of the crippling pandemic, when non-essential employees were sequestered at home. She told the Journal-News she doesn’t believe it will be as difficult this time.

ExploreButler County again hunting for second-in-command

“I’m hopeful the stellar reputation of Butler County’s finances will attract strong quality candidates,” Boyko said.

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 has not been.

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. Commissioner Don Dixon said they need to find a new finance director but he isn’t worried the finance office will suffer in the interim.

The commissioners have always said the 7th largest county in the state is too big and complex not to have a second in command and Dixon said finding one is a top priority.

“I want to get an assistant administrator hired as soon as possible, we’ve been looking and haven’t been successful yet,” Dixon said. “But I’m going to increase the intensity of the search and we’re going to get that position filled.”

Rogers said they need “focus first” on hiring the finance director.

The last time the county advertised for an assistant administrator 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 said she hasn’t posted the job on their website, “because it’s such a critical role in the commissioners’ office I’m identifying a way to attract the right candidate, which would lead to greater success than a general posting or advertisement on a job board.”

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said not only do they need a No. 2 and a finance director they are also lacking an economic development director — they haven’t had that position for years — and an assistant director of JFS. She wants to hire a professional recruiter to get all those positions filled.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Carpenter said. “The county dealing with so many critical positions that are vacant at the same time, in the face of a crisis in the auditor’s office, in the face of a pandemic that’s still ongoing.”

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