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Fairfield staff turnover continues with finance director’s departure

Fairfield’s turnover of department managers continues with its finance director leaving for a new job.

Mary Hopton told the Journal-News she was “looking for an organization with a different and better work culture” and has accepted the chief financial officer position with Great Parks of Hamilton County.

Hopton has been with the city for 19 years, the last decade as its finance director. She leaves the city earning $124,384 annually.

Hopton’s last day with the city is Aug. 3, according to Fairfield officials. Scott Timmer will be the interim finance director until one is hired, said City Manager Mark Wendling.

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“I think it’s a great opportunity for her,” Wendling said of Hopton’s departure.

Hopton leaves the city in solid financial shape. The city has an Aa1 Moody’s credit rating, which is the second highest possible rating for a governmental entity. That rating was re-confirmed in July 2017 when Hopton refinanced the city’s debt.

The city’s 2018 operating budget is projected to see $81.6 million in revenues and $73.3 million in expenditures, a 4.2 percent and 2.75 percent increase, respectively, over 2017.

The city maintains a 25 percent rainy day fund, which is budgeted to be $7.5 million for 2018.

Wendling said the search for a new finance director would focus on Ohio, “and the goal is to have someone hired by early October.”

The next finance director will be the sixth department manager to have left the city since Wendling became city manager in 2015 after serving as the city’s assistant city manager. All but two of the six department head departures — which includes Hopton’s — were due to retirements.

Hopton’s replacement will be Wendling’s seventh department manager hire.

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Wendling most recently hired a new assistant city manager, Daniel Wendt, after the first, Greg Preece, left for a job in California. He’s also hired Public Utilities Director Adam Sackenheim, Development Services Director Greg Kathman and Police Chief Steve Maynard after their predecessors retired.

Later this week he is expected to make a job offer to a new parks director, who will succeed former parks director Jim Bell, who retired in April.

Timmer currently oversees utility billing operations, accounts payable and receivable, and handles the annual federal Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. He earns $86,798 annually.

Great Parks CEO Jack Sutton said Hopton was one of 59 candidates to apply for the job, and one of five to be interviewed.

“Mary stood out at each step of the way,” he said.

Hopton is expected to start her new job on Aug. 9.

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