Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix won the top fiscal officer job in the county by a landslide Thursday night after the county GOP picked her to replace convicted former auditor Roger Reynolds.
The GOP Central Committee voted 127 to 45 in favor of Nix to be the next auditor after Reynolds was ousted in December because he was found guilty of a felony.
GOP Chairman Todd Hall, who had called upon Reynolds to resign after he was indicted, said he is pleased with the outcome.
“Our Central Committee spoke tonight, decisively, and votes to place Nancy Nix in the permanent role as county auditor,” Hall told the Journal-News Thursday night. “Nancy has been a great treasurer and will be an even better auditor with integrity.”
Nix, West Chester Twp. Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones and newcomer Scott Dalesandro — father of Mike Dalesandro, who challenged and lost to Reynolds in November — all wanted the job. Jones came in second and Dalesandro, a political newcomer, didn’t cull a single vote.
“I am honored that the Republican Party placed their trust in me to reestablish trust in another county office,” Nix told the Journal-News after the vote. “There is a great staff in place at the auditor’s office, so I am looking forward to working with them to see what needs changed, what we need to keep doing, and how to reach out to the community better.”
Interim county auditor Joe Statzer, who the county commissioners installed after Reynolds’ conviction, didn’t want the permanent job.
County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told the Journal-News before Nix can officially take over the auditor’s office Gov. Mike DeWine must certify the appointment, the commissioners must pick an interim treasurer, she needs a bond and she must be sworn in. Those things will hopefully happen next week.
Commissioner Don Dixon told the Journal-News the Central Committee made the right choice.
“It was a good pick, she knows the job so it should be business as usual,” Dixon said. “It should be a smooth transition, there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve.”
Reynolds was indicted last February on five counts for bribery and leveraging his public office to further his own interests on charges related to trying to help his family develop land in West Chester Twp. A third felony was added in July for him allegedly asking Lakota Schools officials to use $750,000 of the unspent fees he routinely returns to taxing bodies each year for a golf academy at Four Bridges Golf Course, where his family lives.
The jury found him guilty on the charge related to Lakota but not guilty on the development deal charges. He faces a possible six to 18 month jail term and a $5,000 fine. Visiting Judge Daniel Hogan has scheduled his sentencing for Feb. 15 but Reynolds was forced out of office because he cannot serve as a public official after a felony conviction.
Jones told the Journal-News he is happy for Nix.
“For Nancy I’m happy, I realize people can see that the move from treasurer to auditor is a natural move,” he said. “I support her success in any and every way possible.”
Before the GOP vote, Dalesandro told the Journal-News he’d be wasting his time and reiterated the thought Friday: “I told you I wasted my time.”
“I just wanted to make sure it just wasn’t one person or two people and they just automatically pick somebody,” Dalesandro said. “Which is pretty much what they did anyway, there was no surprise.”
Nix is well0acquainted with her new staff, she has worked with most of them for years — because the auditor and treasurer’s offices both deal with property tax bills — and she hopes they will stay. However, Reynolds’ chief deputy Dawn Mills resigned earlier this week, “she just said it’s time,” Nix said.
Mills and a number of Reynolds’ past and present employees have written letters to Hogan asking him for leniency when sentencing their former boss.
“Because I’ve worked alongside those auditor employees for 16 years I’ve developed great relationships with most of them and I trust their skills and knowledge and wouldn’t want any of them to leave,” Nix said.
She said she will be bringing her Chief Deputy Lori Sullivan with her, after they get through the upcoming tax collection. The timing of this appointment is not ideal given the tax bills are going out next week and Nix expects both offices to be deluged with calls from concerned taxpayers, some of whom will see hefty increases.
“We have all hands on deck,” Nix said adding she can only speak for the treasurer’s office at this point because she hasn’t “set foot in the auditor’s office” but “we feel confident that we will be able to answer all the calls and the emails in time. The initial rush, the first two weeks, we will have everybody on the phone that’s possible, we will even be having people work extended hours if need be.”
There are already people lining up to take over the treasurer’s office, Jones said he’ll go for it, as will Nix’s former chief deputy Mike McNamara.
“I’ve received a lot of encouragement, I mean a lot,” Jones said. “I have a track record of successful, excellence in financial bookkeeping, as well as a watchdog and I think that would make for a very healthy professional relationship between me and our new auditor.”
McNamara wore a number of hats with the county, he left in August 2020 to become Clermont County’s economic development director.
“I worked for the state treasurer for three to four years and then was chief deputy in the treasurer’s office with Nancy for five years and we did a lot of great things together,” McNamara said. “I really enjoy that office, what it does, the people that are in it, that’s where we started the land bank and I’d like to see where we can take it into the future.”
McNamara started his career with the county in the Clerk of Courts Office in 1998; was with Nix from 2010 to 2015. He moved to the development department in 2015 serving as the executive director for both the Port Authority and the Land Bank.
Nix’s appointment is a promotion of sorts, the auditor’s office is a bigger operation with 29 people, Nix said she has 15 full-time and one part-time employee. The pay is better too, according to state law the treasurer’s salary is set at $87,422 versus $110,258 for the auditor.
This is the second time Nix was tapped by the GOP for a position, she culled 52% of the vote — she had two challengers — when the Party picked her to replace Carole Mosketti, who resigned after being convicted of an ethics violation for hiring her granddaughter in 2007.
Nix, who is a CPA and has a masters degree in business administration, was the assistant vice president and private banking manager for US Bank in Hamilton before resigning to take the treasurer post. She served on Middletown City Council from 2001-05 and was vice mayor for two of those years.
Commissioner T.C. Rogers said she is highly qualified for her new position and “I think the auditor’s office deserves a person with professional credentials, besides the one that she has been doing a good job efficiently for her previous office.”
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