New Butler County administrator starts job amid spat between her new bosses

The decision to hire Judi Boyko was made with relative ease, but the new Butler County administrator is starting her job on the heels of a spat between her new bosses.

Boyko takes the helm of Ohio’s seventh largest county today, a month after signing a five-year, $172,000-per-year contract. It took the three commissioners only about a month to find a new leader, a process that took more than a year when they hired her predecessor, the retired Charlie Young.

During their meeting Monday, commissioners Cindy Carpenter and Don Dixon were visibly angry when they returned from a 45-minute-long executive session. The topic of discussion was the former acting administrator David Fehr.

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The commissioners can’t discuss what went on behind closed doors, but when they came out, they voted unanimously to keep Fehr’s salary at $125,000 but remove the “acting administrator” title. The resolution they tabled to discuss in private would have reduced his pay to $106,433, the amount he earns as development director.

Dixon went on to say Fehr’s future is bright, albeit unclear.

“Through this transition we’re not sure where it’s going to work out, what your position will be when it all winds up, when it’s over,” Dixon said after he made his motion, which passed unanimously. “But you’ve done an excellent job. I can tell you the new administrator has said great things about you, so you certainly have a place with us in the top administration. We’ll get there.”

The commissioners have all said they are happy to have a leader of Boyko’s caliber. She comes to the county after a year-and-a-half stint as Hamilton County’s assistant administrator and a long career leading West Chester Twp.

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“I have worked with a number of administrators and top people, and in my opinion she is the top, she is an ‘A’ player,” Dixon told the Journal-News. “I’ve personally talked about hiring her in different roles for the last number of years. This is a huge positive step in Butler County’s organization. It’s all good news for Butler County residents.”

When she walks through door of her office on the sixth floor of the Government Services Center in Hamilton there will be a number of pressing matters needing her attention. Probably first on the list are the pricey voting machines the county hasn’t yet budgeted but must buy this year.

MORE: Commissioners have rare disagreement on insurance provider

Boyko told the Journal-News she has met with Diane Noonan and Eric Corbin at the Board of Elections, and there will be a work session with the commissioners next week on the estimated $5 million-plus purchase.

The commissioners have given her a to-do list with priorities like restoring the annual $2 million rainy day fund contribution, keeping the 2020 debt free plan on course and working on the perennial issue with health insurance, to name a few.

Insurance sparked the last uncharacteristic rift between the commissioners last fall. Dixon and Commissioner T.C. Rogers wanted Medical Mutual of Ohio and Carpenter wanted United Health Care. The county’s coverage is with UHC.

Boyko said she knows how big of an issue — about $20 million worth — health insurance is.

“I know health care premiums and costs to the county is a significant issue that the board would like to address,” Boyko said. “For every employer health care is a significant cost. And engaging our employees as consumers of that health care and educating them about the best choices for their families, but also economically for the taxpayers is something that I’d like to explore with H.R., the commissioners and of course the employees.”

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