Scott Timmer was the No. 1 choice to be Fairfield’s next city manager for at least three on City Council.
But now that Timmer, the city’s assistant city manager, will take on a new role with Butler County at the end of next month, the city will scramble to fill the administration’s top two executive positions.
“Scott Timmer is an A-plus player, and from Day 1 I’ve said Scott Timmer should be our next city manager,” said Councilman Tim Abbott, who serves as council’s finance committee chair.
Abbott, as well as Councilman Mark Scharringhausen, wanted to see the board interview Timmer before contracting an outside search firm.
“We lost ourselves what I consider to be our number one choice,” said Scharringhausen, calling it a “mistake” not to follow the initial plan.
“The only error I think City Council has made is that ― and I said this in the last public discussion on this ― that we made a decision as a body to interview an internal candidate and then decide from that point forward if we needed to obtain a search firm,” he said. “I think if we would have done that, we would have been in a different situation than we are today.”
In April, Council decided 4-3 to hire a search firm, reversing an informal decision to interview Timmer first.
After an initial outlining of the city manager search process to replace Mark Wendling, who resigned in mid-December, Council “paused” the process. Abbott said in April the pause “allowed one of our internal employees the opportunity to shine” and that person, who would be identified as Timmer “should be interviewed first.”
Abbott, Scharringhausen and Councilman Chad Oberson wanted to interview Timmer first.
“Council really missed a great opportunity with Mr. Timmer,” said Oberson. “I am very upset they did not see the all-star we had right in front of us.”
Abbott, who is the Council’s finance committee chair and has worked with Timmer his entire tenure at the city, said, “In this day and age, you can’t keep A-plus players in limbo like we have.”
Scharringhausen said the team of acting City Manager Don Bennett and Timmer has accomplished “quite a few things” in the first half of the year, including stabilizing the police department, reorganizing the city’s emergency dispatch, and addressing long-term issues in the fire department.
All on Council have congratulated Timmer on his new position with the county, and Councilman Bill Woeste said the city had to proceed with a search firm.
“(Timmer) was certainly well qualified, but because of the kind of municipality we are, we have to go through the search process for transparency sake, if for no other reason,” Woeste said. “And Scott told me personally that he felt he could rise to the top, the cream always rises to the top, and he had no problem competing.”
He added that Timmer has “lined himself up to be the administrator of Butler County someday if he wants.”
Mayor Steve Miller said he doesn’t believe the Council’s decision not to interview Timmer impacted this result.
“No matter what happened, this is really an attractive position for him. I think it’s a good move,” the mayor said. “We hate to lose him. He’s definitely a great guy we’d love to have with us, but this is one of those opportunities that’s in his best interest.”
Miller said he believes there will be city manager candidates ready for interviews by no later than September, “but it’s a process you and you kind of got to work through the process.”
“I’m hopeful we can find a great candidate because Fairfield’s a great community,” he said.
Miller said the city manager will appoint the assistant city manager, but Bennett could promote someone from within as he did with Timmer. The mayor said that possibility “hasn’t been talked about” at this time.
“I don’t know what the short-term will be, but we’re going to try to have a meeting (today) in executive session to talk about personnel matters and we’ll see what everybody thinks,” he said.
CITY COUNCIL REACTION
Here’s how some on Fairfield City Council reacted to the departure of Assistant City Manager Scott Timmer, who will be the next Butler County assistant administrator:
Leslie Besl: “I think this will be another rung in the ladder he climbs toward an even more successful career. I am grateful for his many contributions to our city. He is an outstanding individual, and we will miss him greatly.”
Chad Oberson: “Council really missed a great opportunity with Mr. Timmer. I am very upset they did not see the all-star we had right in front of us.”
Dale Paullus: “We will miss Scott Timmer, and I wish him well in the future.”
Terry Senger: “He did a great job for the city of Fairfield, and he’ll be missed.”
Bill Woeste: “Judi Boyko’s got a good guy that’s going to do a lot of great things for Butler County, and Fairfield will benefit sooner or later from that.”
Tim Abbott: “Mr. Timmer had some opportunities and will always have opportunities, because he is truly an A-plus player. He’s got a rare talent in the local government arena.”
Mark Scharringhausen: “In the short time I’ve worked with him, he has demonstrated a strong skill set that will serve the county well. It’s unfortunate that Fairfield won’t get the opportunity to experience that skill set in the role of city manager here.”
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