Miami County discusses communication issues after 2 government leaders depart

Outgoing county administrator’s personnel reviews show tension over her role and relationship with commissioners

TROY — Miami County commissioners assured department directors the county is on track following the departure of commissioners’ administrator Charlotte Colley after less than two years on the job.

Commissioners met March 15 with about a dozen department directors to talk about the immediate future and encouraged keeping communication lines open with them, and interim commissioners’ administrator Michael Clarey.

“As commissioners we want to be kept in the communication trail,” said Commissioner Ted Mercer. “I feel our communication trail needs to be a little better than it was.”

In addition to Colley’s departure, Chris Johnson, county facilities and operations director, left as of Friday, March 17. He is taking a job with the city of Piqua.

Clarey is taking on administrator tasks in addition to his job as the county assistant development director. The appointment could last 90 to 120 days, said Commission President Wade Westfall.

Colley’s resignation was submitted March 7 and accepted by commissioners March 9. She joined the county staff in summer 2021.

Commissioners and Colley signed a severance and separation agreement and waiver of any claims against the county.

On accepting the resignation, Westfall said commissioners would not discuss the departure further, referring questions to county Prosecutor Tony Kendell, whose office works with the commission on personnel matters, among other issues.

Ohio law lists numerous things county administrators must do under the direction of the county commissioners, including preparing the county’s annual budget. The first two responsibilities listed are to “assist in the administration, enforcement, and execution” of board policies and resolutions, and to “supervise and direct the activities of the affairs of the divisions of county government under the control or jurisdiction of the board.”

Colley’s personnel file included no record of disciplinary action. Documents referred to some issues with communications including Colley comments in a self-evaluation.

“Over the past year, there was some feedback that communication was ‘missing the mark.’ I explained all the various ways that I was communicating to the commissioners and agreed to try new ideas to ensure better communication. However, no new ideas were provided,” Colley wrote in the evaluation.

She wrote that regular meetings were set up with commissioners but were often canceled. Colley said she requested a strategic planning session or goal setting and role review to clarify what was to be done.

“This was expected to begin sometime in the first quarter of 2023. I was working on developing a scope when it was communicated that the commissioners had developed goals for me … I was not involved in any of those discussions,” Colley wrote.

Commissioners referenced communication in a December 2022 document outlining goals and requests for Colley to implement immediately including weekly updates to commissioners on the administrator’s work and the results of the work.

The commissioners said one commissioner would attend administrator meetings with department directors each quarter and that any requests for statements by the commissioners’ office from the news media would be reviewed by the commissioners prior to the statements’ release.

The commission in January adjusted some of the administrator’s authority and responsibilities in areas reducing the role in employee requisitions and some payroll related activities. The commissioners said they again wanted to be more involved in those areas of county operations and said they planned to review the responsibilities annually.

The commissioners late last week said they have not settled on the process they will use to find a new commissioners’ administrator. The title for that position also likely will change to operations director, they said.

The commission voted March 16 to change the facilities and operations title to facilities, which they said would better reflect that position’s intended responsibilities.

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