Applications arriving for 2 key Butler County positions, including finance director

With the abrupt departure of Butler County Finance Director Tawana Keels the county is looking fora new financial guru. Officials believe the “coveted” position will be filled quickly. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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With the abrupt departure of Butler County Finance Director Tawana Keels the county is looking fora new financial guru. Officials believe the “coveted” position will be filled quickly. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County officials say they hope hiring a new finance director won’t take long as they posted two positions in the county government.

Finance Director Tawana Keels submitted her resignation last week after seven years leading the county’s finance department, for which she earned $117,130. Her last day is Friday.

Keels said she is taking a new position but has declined to say what it is.

County Administrator Judi Boyko posted the position Friday with a salary range of $84,219 to $124,800. As of Tuesday afternoon, 25 people had applied. Boyko told the Journal-News she hopes to have the job filled in about 30 to 45 days.

Boyko said Keels helped the county earn a Aaa rating from Moody’s and pursue a plan that will eliminate general fund debt at the end of this year, and the position is attractive.

“I believe this process, where the direction the county is going, the innovativeness the commissioners are instructing me to create as an organization, this position will be coveted,” Boyko said.

RELATED: Butler County finance director leaving for new job

Boyko also posted a new job for a director of assets, procurement and projects. The salary range is the same as the finance director position, and 67 people had applied by Tuesday afternoon.

Boyko budgeted for the asset and procurement job, one that has been vacant since Randy Quisenberry left in 2016. She has also planned for a new assistant administrator position but has not yet posted it.

When the county was looking for an assistant county administrator three years ago, 233 people applied. 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.

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said she hopes it doesn’t take long to find the right person.

“I think that rather than filling the position quickly we really need to make sure we fill it with the right person, with the right skill level and the right government financial background,” Carpenter said.

The $416 million budget for this year has already passed and the tax budget for 2021 isn’t due until the summer. In the interim, Boyko said the two financial analysts already on staff are capable of handling the day-to-day operations of the finance department.

Carpenter asked during the weekly commissioner meeting who will be making the higher-level decisions. She said if there are changes to already-approved budget appropriations, which happens with some frequency, the budget analysts should not be responsible for approving those.

“It’s not that everybody gets everything they ask for because Tawana’s gone, I hope,” Carpenter said.

Boyko told the Journal-News she has confidence in the finance staff and she will be hands-on.

“The two gentlemen in the budget analyst position have done an outstanding job since they’ve been there, albeit their tenure has been very limited. But I see tremendous talent and skills so that they are going to maintain the daily operations, which I think places us in a very good position going forward,” she said. “The policy driven, the higher budget type of directions and discussions, I will be involved.”

Boyko has been meeting with the various office holders and others to discuss the transition. County Auditor Roger Reynolds said his office is ready to provide a backup to the budget analysts with things like invoice processing, payroll issues, purchase orders and financial reports for the commissioners.

“We’re just there as a backup to assist,” Reynolds said. “But they certainly are competent to handle the day-to-day operations and I really don’t see us missing a beat during the transition to a new finance director.”