Butler County MetroParks leader gets raise, $20K bonus

Key projects, competition are reasons for new deal, board leaders say.

The executive director of MetroParks of Butler County has received a new contract and bonus that board members said was needed for competitive reasons.

The Board of Park Commissioners last month approved a new 25-month contract with a competitive pay adjustment for Jonathan R. Granville, who also will receive a $20,000 performance bonus. The new contract expires on Jan. 15, 2019.

It was Granville’s first raise in two years.

Prior to this raise and bonus, he was being paid $82,201 in his three-year contract that started September 2012.

In November 2013, he had his contract amended. That three-year contract, which ended Nov. 30, 2016, provided a salary of $68,016 a year in a retire/rehire arrangement where he received a reduced salary to protect other state retirement benefits. Granville received a 5 percent merit increase in salary and a $10,000 bonus. The board cited significant achievements when this was awarded in late 2014 and went into effect in February 2015.

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He became MetroParks executive director in 2007 after serving in a similar position in Erie County.

Granville received ratings of exceptional, highly effective and solid performance on his evaluations in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 from the park commissioners.

In his last evaluation by the board on Aug. 1, Granville was praised for his passion for MetroParks, having solid knowledge about parks in Ohio, being involved in community events and being a visible leader. He was also praised for being ‘bold” in pursuing big projects such as the acquisition of the former Weatherwax Golf Course in Madison Twp. to become a passive park.

As for an improvement, the board said Granville should “focus on building a team at MetroParks that will carry on” after he steps aside. He was also encouraged to empower staff with meaningful responsibilities to grow and lead. In addition, Granville was encouraged to give staff clear goals and hold them accountable and “allow others to take the limelight.”

Edward Dwyer, president of the Board of Park Commissioners, said Granville’s contract was up at the end of November and criteria and guidelines were followed as part of the previous contract structure.

“We want to make sure projects underway come to fruition,” he said.

Dwyer said under Granville’s tenure the park district has become more active and the number of employees has grown dramatically. He also noted Granville put in many hours to ensure the passage of the six-year, 0.5-mill renewal and a 0.2-mill increase to provide funding for MetroParks that was approved by voters last March, and he navigated the acquisition of the former Weatherwax Golf Course and the expansion project at the Voice of America Park’s sports complex.

Dwyer also added that Granville plans to retire at the end of the contract.

Dwyer and Commissioner Cynamon Trokhan were at the Nov. 22 meeting where the raise and bonus was approved. Commissioner Gregory Amend was not at that meeting and could not be reached for comment about the new raise and bonus for Granville.

Kelly Barkley, MetroParks senior manager of community outreach, said in an email response that the park commissioners determined that the executive director’s salary should be similar with other park districts and other comparable agencies. She said the park commissioners also took into consideration “the magnitude of the role an executive director plays in the success or failure of the services that are delivered within a park system to park customer/owners.

In addition, Barkley said the park commissioners have been working over the past two years adjusting compensation to match industry standards to help in retaining staff at all levels.

“This was identified as key element to employee retention due to high staff turnover and the examination of comparative industry pay rates,” she said. “As an example between 20-40 percent of the management team has turned over annually, with many moving to other park districts, with higher compensation stated as the rationale.”

In 2014, Five Rivers MetroParks in Montgomery County commissioned a compensation study for executive directors of 13 parks organizations in the region. Butler County MetroParks was not in the agencies surveyed in that study but when its executive director’s salary was compared, it was among the lowest.

Barkley said the salary adjustment was also impacted by the larger role that Granville has taken on, the number of critical park improvement projects and facility enhancements which have been started or will be started beginning in 2017.

Those projects include the UC Health West Chester Hospital Fieldhouse at Voice of America MetroPark, The River Center adjacent to the Great Miami River Trail in Middletown, and major bike and pedestrian trail improvement projects.

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