Butler County stops search for No. 2 in command

Butler County Administrator Charlie Young said the search for an assistant county administrator is on hold. FILE

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Butler County Administrator Charlie Young said the search for an assistant county administrator is on hold. FILE

Butler County has paused its search for a new assistant county administrator and later might re-post the job that drew almost 250 applicants the first time.

In the meantime, one candidate for the job is taking on some of the duties on an interim basis.

Commissioners months ago determined they wanted additional help and sought to hire someone to be second in command for County Administrator Charlie Young.

County government employs about 2,100 people, making it the sixth-largest employer in Butler County.

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Young told the Journal-News the search has been put on hold. Sue Vance, the assistant director of the Water and Sewer Department, has been reassigned to the commissioners’ office for three months to handle some of the assistant administrator duties.

“Mrs. Vance brings a wealth of operational experience to this position and will initially assist with establishing operational, maintenance and capital plans for facilities and fixed-asset management,” Young said.

A potential timetable to resume the search has not been set, Young said, as commissioners weigh options.

Commissioners interviewed six candidates — including Vance, Finance Director Tawana Keels and Mike McNamara, executive director of the land bank and port authority — for the position.

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Commissioner Don Dixon said he thought about bringing Vance over to the commissioners’ office a while ago, but she wasn’t really interested in leaving her job at water and sewer. This three-month stint will give both the commissioners and Vance a chance to see if it is a good fit.

“We really didn’t have anybody that we’d interviewed that was what we felt like exactly fit the job,” Dixon said. “So we thought why don’t we see if Sue would come over for 90 days, see how she likes it, see how it works for her and see how it works for us. Then we’ll re-evaluate it.”

Young said previously the person who ultimately wins the $81,000-a-year job will be charged with helping him implement the commissioners’ vision for the future and manage the $95.9 million general fund budget.

He said a “cornerstone” of how the commissioners want the government to run is to provide excellent service but doing so with smaller government and being unobtrusive when they aren’t needed.

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The task is monumental, he said, given the far-ranging services county government provides, such as JFS and Children Services; the justice system; water and sewer service; mental health and addiction services; economic development; and elections.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said the six candidates they interviewed were good but the three commissioners couldn’t come to a consensus.

“I think the last six which we interviewed were all good ones,” he said.

Rogers said they could not reach a unanimous vote on the full-time position, “but we came to total agreement on hiring Sue for 90 days.”

The decision to add another person at the top level came after the sudden death of Jerome Kearns, the assistant Job and Family Services director, the departure of JFS Executive Director Ray Pater and the resignation of asset director Randy Quisenberry. Those departures meant Young picked up new responsibilities.

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When the position was advertised earlier this year, 233 people applied, but a large portion of them misunderstood the position to be that of an administrative assistant or secretary.

Human Resources Director Jim Davis said if they eventually do re-post the job he might do things a little differently.

“We’ll have to reassess in a few months how we want to recruit and advertise for that,” Davis said.

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