Longtime Butler County manager who once claimed discrimination in pay retires

Butler County Records Center Manager and archivist Rhonda Freeze has retired after 30 years, and the commissioners are making changes at the short-staffed office.

Freeze has been on a lengthy medical leave due to a work accident, according to County Administrator Judi Boyko. She submitted her retirement effective April 30. The commissioners approved paying her $5,181 for unused vacation time on Monday.

While Freeze has been on leave, Boyko said the Records Center has lost 75 percent of the four-person staff, which Boyko said is not sustainable. The single employee has been handling records requests for all county staff and office holders and the public for months.

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“The one remaining employee is doing her best and doing a stellar job in trying to maintain the operations,” Boyko said. “But one person cannot meet the demands of the duties.”

She will present the commissioners with a temporary fix next week. There are three Microfilm and Imaging Board employees scanning documents for the Juvenile Court who can be temporarily reassigned to help out in the Record Center when needed. The commissioners will vote on a memorandum of understanding Monday.

Commissioner Don Dixon said commissioners have tasked Boyko with coming up with a permanent solution for the Record Center.

Dixon voiced frustration in 2014 because Freeze wasn’t moving quickly enough to find record storage space within county-owned facilities. The county for years has had a goal of reducing the amount of leased spaces.

The county has been paying about $16,000 per year in rent to store thousands of boxes of records in a fireproof warehouse in Hamilton. Freeze considered a couple of relocation options, namely the Historic Courthouse and Court Street Jail after commissioners criticized her inactivity on the project during budget hearings. She determined neither plan would have worked.

Dixon said Freeze and her staff have made some progress in reducing the amount of paper the county houses.

“They have made some gains in getting rid of some boxes and getting some of them reduced to film,” he said. “They have made some progress. It’s not as much as we’d like to see, but they have been doing a pretty good job.”

Freeze filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010 claiming discrimination after the commissioners dropped her pay to $69,899. She won, and the commissioners had to pay her $34,594 and reinstate her $85,772 salary. Two other female administrators also received settlements for the pay cuts.

Freeze also was Trenton’s mayor and a council member there, and she ran and lost to Liberty Twp. Trustee Board President Steve Schramm in 2015.

Freeze could not be reached for comment on her retirement.

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