Butler County: new administrator good investment for residents

The Government Services Center in Hamilton, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
The Government Services Center in Hamilton, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Butler County is one step closer to picking a new assistant county administrator and officials say it is not just about adding another body, customer service, efficiency and furthering financial goals are at the heart of the hiring.

The person who gets the $81,000 a year position will be expected to be another set of eyes and ears for County Administrator Charlie Young when deals — like the water contract forged with Hamilton a few years ago and the estimated $350 million Liberty Center mixed use development — are being done.

RELATED: County and Hamilton strike lucrative water deal

“We have a lot of stuff going and a lot of stuff planned for the future,” Commissioner Don Dixon said. “It is what’s required because you could lose a million bucks in the blink of an eye, if you’re not on your game.”

Dixon said the county wants to make sure their strong fiscal position remains steady, and the person hired for this position can help with that.

HOW WE GOT HERE: Gone are the days of bloated budgets

“Knock on wood, we’ve been very successful the last four or five years, but we all know where we came from and we’re not going to go back there,” Dixon said. “I think it’s an investment, it’s just not adding personnel, it’s not that, it’s really an integral part of staying on track of the plan we’ve got going.”

Butler County weathered deficits in excess of $6 million through The Great Recession.

The commissioners have now interviewed six candidates for the assistant county administrator position. They are:

  • Tim Hershner — Pierce Twp. Administrator
  • Tawana Keels — Butler County Finance Director
  • John Kirk — Montgomery County Information Technology Director
  • Mike McNamara — Executive Director of the Butler County Port Authority and President of the Land Bank
  • Joan Tumblison — Chief Operations Officer/Corporate Counsel at St. Aloysius Orphanage
  • Susan Vance — Division Head in the Butler County Water and Sewer Department

MORE: County receives eclectic crop of administrator candidates

The job also entails helping to manage the $95.9 million general fund budget, 642 employees under the commissioners control and working with other elected officials and their staffs.

Young said this position is unique to the county because previous assistant administrators — there were such positions prior to his tenure here — were also department heads, like Pete Landrum who was both the assistant administrator and finance director when Young came on board in 2012.

The new position won’t be split, and Young said the person will be charged with helping him implement the commissioners’ vision for the future.

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.

The task is monumental, he said, given the far ranging services county government provides: social services like JFS and Children Services; the justice system; water and sewer service; mental health and addiction services; development; elections and more.

“We always begin with financial stability,” Young said. “We’ve made everything we do revolve around the absolute requirement that we are fiscally strong and prepared for the future. We are constantly making certain that we are providing outstanding service in the most economical way we can do so.”

“That’s a constant challenge to continuously evaluate our methods, our processes and our procedures,” he said.

RELATED: County passes structurally balanced budget

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 and the resignation of asset director Randy Quisenberry. Those departures meant Young picked up several new responsibilities.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said those events weren’t the only reason they felt they needed to get Young some help. He said the job is just too big for one person.

“While we have made tremendous strides in making the operations more efficient and predictable for the future, there are several ideas on making the operations even smoother, which we would like to pursue, but Charlie can’t do it while being bogged down with some of the details he has to deal with every day,” Rogers said. “Things are going well but we want it to be better.”