Middletown looking for ‘right people’ to lead city through its revitalization, major projects

The City of Middletown is looking to hire a finance director and city engineer and may hire a recruiting firm, according to City Manager Jim Palenick. FILE PHOTO
The City of Middletown is looking to hire a finance director and city engineer and may hire a recruiting firm, according to City Manager Jim Palenick. FILE PHOTO

Weeks after losing its finance director and city engineer, Middletown continues looking for the “right people” to fill the positions and may hire a recruiting firm to assist in the search, said Susan Cohen, assistant city manager.

Middletown is experiencing the same hiring challenges seen throughout the public and private sector: There are more job openings than qualified candidates, especially for positions that require high degrees, she said.

“Recruiting is getting more challenging,” she said. “We’re all looking for the same talent, but there’s not enough talent to go around.”

Rob Nicolls left as Middletown’s city engineer in May to serve as public works director for Wyoming.

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Jacob Burton, Middletown’s finance director, resigned in April for the same position in Fairfield. He’s being paid $114,000, about the same salary he earned in Middletown. Earlier, Burton had applied to be Fairfield’s assistant city manager.

Burton was one of 19 people who applied for the finance director job and a panel of senior Fairfield staff interviewed six candidates. Burton was the panel’s top choice.

As Middletown finance director, he managed a $100 million budget. Fairfield has a budget of $74.44 million.

Cohen said Middletown has listed the two job openings on several professional sites and social media and has received some resumes from potential candidates. Another challenge, she said, is the private sector typically pays more than the public sector.

In its advertising, the city listed the salary range for the finance director between $108,00 to $120,000 and $86,500 to $114,000 for the city engineer.

Cohen said these two positions are extremely important because Middletown has started a $51 million paving project, may spend $16.6 million building four fire stations and is looking at developing the Great Miami River area and redeveloping the Towne Mall Galleria.

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Cohen said the finance director must have the “right skill set” to lead Middletown when the city is looking to reinvest in its future.

“We need the person,” she said.

If Middletown can’t locate the right candidates for the finance director and city engineer positions, the city may hire a recruiting agency, City Manager Jim Palenick told council this week.

Cohen has contacted a few recruiting agencies and asked them for proposals to find the “right person as quickly as possible.”

Middletown Assistant City Manager Susan Cohen
Middletown Assistant City Manager Susan Cohen