New Butler County asset and purchasing director pays for his position through savings

Butler County Government Services Center

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Butler County Government Services Center

When the Butler County commissioners hired a new asset and purchasing director less than a year ago they said Chris Hacker must justify his position by saving money, and he has produced a return on their investment.

Hacker joined the county as its director of assets, procurement and projects last March with an annual salary of $90,100. County Administrator Judi Boyko reported last week Hacker has produced a $45,000-per-year savings through the competitive bidding process and $50,000 by performing many procurement-related services in-house.

In addition, after garage automation had stalled for several years, Hacker drove the project home recently and Boyko said it will produce about $30,000 more in revenues and save $30,000 in expenses.

When Hacker was hired Commissioner Don Dixon admitted governments often justify spending big taxpayer dollars hiring people because they claim the position will pay for itself, “but then nobody goes back and looks. We go back and look.”

“Obviously there is a benefit to it, but people always say the devil’s in the details so we’re going to be looking closely at that position,” Dixon told the Journal-News. “We’re going to be getting an update quite often to see that the position pays out, that it’s going to do what we think it’s going to do.”

Dixon said Hacker has delivered.

“Not everybody has a position where they can save you more money by doing certain things, government doesn’t work quite that way,” Dixon said. “His position has the ability to make some decisions and create some programs to save some money and clearly he more than pays for himself.”

The county had not had an asset and purchasing manager since November 2016, when Randy Quisenberry left for a job at the Council on Aging for Southwest Ohio. Commissioner Cindy Carpenter has said Quisenberry saved the county $70,000 within a couple months of being hired.

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Commissioner T.C. Rogers said Hacker has come along nicely in his new role and is proving he is an asset.

“I’ve said before if the person in that position was doing the job well that their compensation would not be a net cost and he’s proving that so far,” Rogers said. “And more and more knowing how we want to do business I think he’s going to do better.”

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Dan Ferguson advised the commissioners during their 2020 budget hearing, when Boyko was still trying to fill the position, there was a problem with decentralized purchasing in the county. He told the Journal-News filling that post is critical.

“You’ve got a lot of very complex purchasing requirements pursuant to Ohio bidding statutes and statutes that pertain to requests for proposal,” Ferguson said. “When every office is trying to do their own purchasing, they are not purchasing experts so they miss things and we catch it at the 11th hour.”

He said Hacker is doing a good job.

The county put the asset director and hiring an assistant county administrator on hold when finances were a concern early in the pandemic. Financial fears didn’t come true so the management team search continued. Boyko hired Scott Timmer as her assistant county administrator last summer but he is jumping back to Fairfield as city manager next month.

Since coming onboard Hacker has gotten the parking garage project jumpstarted, bid and let the contract for the first phase of the $4.6 million Historic Courthouse restoration project and got to work on the massive space utilization study.

The value of all of the county’s buildings total more than $477 million and Dixon has estimated 10% to 15% of the county’s space could be eliminated by consolidating offices and making other strategic moves.

The commissioners put out a request for proposals on a space utilization study last summer but only received one bid. Hacker bid it again telling the Journal-News he planned to reach out to the American Institute of Architects to get the word out to its membership that the project is available.

Hacker could not be reached for comment, but Boyko said they have been negotiating with the preferred provider to hammer out terms.

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