Larry Burks has taken the helm as West Chester Twp. Administrator, and more personnel changes could be on the way.
Burks moved from Nebraska, and his first day on the job was Feb. 19. He replaces long-time administrator Judi Boyko, who left last summer to take the number two spot as Hamilton County’s assistant administrator.
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All three trustees say the next order of business is to get Burks an assistant administrator. When Boyko left, there was no obvious second in command, interim administrator Larry Fronks was tasked with leading the township until someone new was hired.
Trustee Mark Welch said the township could have avoided that delay and expense — it hired Novak Consulting Group for $25,000 to launch a national search — if it had an assistant.
“We had asked Judi to get an assistant at least three years ago and she never did,” Welch said. “If we had found an acceptable assistant we would have avoided the extra expense with Novak and the long period of time where we had to find an interim and all that. I’m in agreement, I think it’s protecting the fabric of the staff and the continuity and all that kind of stuff.”
Trustee Board President Lee Wong said the township is just too big, with too much going on, to operate without a second in command. He noted Boyko was the administrator for many years — she was named the administrator 2005 and also served as the assistant administrator, planning and zoning director and township planner — and Burks has “big shoes” to fill.
“It is a big task and we need to hire someone to help him out,” Wong said. “One person, it is going to be very challenging.”
The township’s newest Trustee Ann Becker concurred.
“I think we do need an assistant administrator, not because we don’t have confidence in Larry, it’s just we have such a big township, so many big projects are coming up,” Becker said. “It’ll be important to have another set of eyes to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.”
With only a couple weeks in his position, Burks said he is still evaluating staffing needs. Something he did notice is that the township needs to make better use of technology.
“There is the excellent potential to gain efficiencies through the use of technology. All the on-boarding paperwork is filled out by hand, and we could automate that,” he said. “If you are going to do that, there are several different processes in the township, some I haven’t even been exposed to yet, that could likely be improved through automation.”
He said he also sees opportunities in adding platforms in the new Open.Gov portal the township launched last year. He said with all the roadwork scheduled, it would be helpful for residents to be able to check on the progress and possible pitfalls in the projects.
Burks attended his first township meeting last week and dubbed himself “Lucky Larry” saying he has be best new job. The trustees have all said now that they have spent some more time with him, they are very pleased with their choice. Wong said Burks is in early every day, setting a good example for the staff, and the staff have all had positive things to say about their new leader.
“He is just jumping in with both feet, and the great thing is here’s a guy that’s jumping in the deep water and already knows how to swim,” Welch said. “I think he is going to do really great and is going to be a tremendous asset to the community.”
Burks’ wife Katie and their two young sons will be joining him when school lets out in Nebraska.