Butler County Administrator Charlie Young has announced he will retire from government at the end of the year after more than six years at the helm.
Young, an engineer by trade, said he can’t reveal just yet where he is going to work after he retires from the government sector, but said it was time to return to his roots and an “incredible” opportunity arose.
“We are in such great shape, I’m comfortable that I’ve played the kind of role the commissioners needed me to play,” he said. “We are in wonderful shape and whoever comes in next will be able to continue to improve and to work with commission as we change our focus perhaps more into economic development initiatives.”
The resignation will be announced Monday and Commissioner Don Dixon said Development Director David Fehr will likely step in as acting administrator. The county does not have an assistant administrator.
“He helped get the county in a good place… I hate to see him go but that’s what makes the world go around,” Dixon told the Journal-News. “I’m not surprised. He’s purely an engineer and he works with numbers and equations, and all those things make sense. Nothing in government makes sense.”
Young is leaving the county after helping steer it to the pinnacle of financial success with a Moody’s Investors Service bond rating upgrade to Aaa, the highest credit rating. The county has about $50 million in reserves, and a general fund debt — which stood at $92.3 million in 2009 — that will be down to $17.6 million by year’s end with a plan to have it erased in 2020.
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter ticked off some of Young’s other major accomplishments like brokering “the best water deal of the century” with the city of Hamilton; overseeing the overhaul of Children Services and “significant system changes” at Job and Family Services.
“If you look back at what he’s done, he’s really brought us through some really tough times,” she said. “We’ve put in place systems that will last well into the future… His influence has been throughout county government.”
She said the county is on “sound footing” right now because of Young and she is thankful for a job well done.
Young said one of the things he is most proud of is the culture change that has evolved through his tenure. He said there is a sense of collaboration now, not contention.
County Auditor Roger Reynolds agreed.
“Charlie and I have worked great together. There is always the learning curves early on and we got through those,” Reynolds said. “I hate to see him leave. He’s been an asset to the county and the importance of the commissioners and the auditor’s office have to have a good working relationship and Charlie has been a big part of making that a strong team.”
It took the commissioners a year — two candidates refused offers before Young took the job in 2012 — to settle on Young. However, the make up of the board is different now with Commissioner T.C. Rogers on the panel instead of former commissioner Chuck Furmon.
All three commissioners say they doubt this search process will be lengthy. Last year they tried to hire an assistant county administrator. About 230 people applied for the new administrative position and a good number — almost half — apparently thought the $81,244-a-year job was for an administrative assistant, not a management position.
Commissioner T.C. Rogers said Young has been instrumental in the success the county now enjoys and he hates to see him go, but he believes the filling the top spot will be easier than the assistant position.
“I would say no in the fact that it’s a more defined role, what the county administrator does,” Rogers said. “As opposed to us trying to create the responsibilities for an assistant.”
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said the top spot in a county is not an easy job, but one that Young handled well.
“It’s always a difficult position to be in when you have three different minds to deal with and they don’t always work in harmony,” he said referring to the commissioners. “His job is always to try and harmonize those three thoughts that act independently of each other, and hopefully they can come to a unified and uniform decision and Charlie has been able to secure that. So he will be definitely missed.”
Young’s annual salary is $151,755 and the commissioners gave him a formal performance review earlier this year and he received a 303 out of a possible 325 points on the evaluation scale. He received top scores for problem solving, multi-tasking, goal consideration in decision making, efficiency, communications skills, quality service, and “consistently makes clear, transparent, timely decisions which align with organizational and department goals” among other attributes.
Prior to joining the county in July 2012 Young worked for Hamilton from 1993 until February 2012 as deputy city manager/general manager for Hamilton municipal utilities, until the city reorganized the department.
Before the municipal job, Young, who grew up in the Lindenwald neighborhood, worked for the General Motors Corp. and as a researcher in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Cincinnati, his alma mater.