5 serious tasks facing Butler County’s new administrator

Butler County commissioners have hired the county’s new administrator, Judi Boyko, former West Chester Twp. administrator and current assistant administrator in Hamilton County.

Here are the top five challenges Boyko faces as she takes the position:

READ MORE: Butler County hires former West Chester leader as new county administrator

1. Find $2 million ... somewhere

When the county commissioners passed the $102 million budget for this year, they mandated the annual $2 million rainy day fund allocation — that was erased to reach a structurally balanced budget — be reinstated by year’s end.

“You’ve got 12 months to find $2 million and put it back in that account,” Commissioner Don Dixon said.

The rainy day fund holds $10 million but Dixon said he would feel more comfortable having a fund balance in the $12 to $15 million range. In addition to the rainy day fund, the county has built its reserves up to about $50 million.

RELATED: Commissioner: Reinstate rainy day funding in $102 million general fund budget

2. Keep the 2020 debt-free plan on track

Several years ago the county embarked on an aggressive debt pay-down plan and is reaching the home stretch. The new county administrator will need to make sure the county’s general fund debt has a zero balance by the end of 2020.

The debt a decade ago was around $92 million.

MORE: Butler County’s debt-free plan still on track

3. Health insurance is draining the county budget

The county was hit with a 20.3 percent health insurance hike — the increase was originally estimated at 10 percent — that put pressure on the 2019 budget. Double-digit rate hikes for several years pushed the county into the self insurance realm. The new county administrator will have to find a way to reduce the ever-increasing cost of employee health insurance to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

RELATED: Butler County health insurance saga continues

4. Expensive voting machine decision looming

The new voting machines are not in the budget yet but the county intends to purchase the equipment in time for the November election. The state will pay $3.2 million toward the new system but taxpayers would be on the hook for just under $5.19 million if the county picks an electronic voting system, and just under $3.1 million for a paper voting system.

LATEST STORY: BOE zeroing in on new voting machine recommendation

5. Dealing with unfunded mandates

It’s anyone’s guess whether the upcoming state budget will provide money to maintain a new state law that mandates judges keep felony five offenders at home, rather than prison. The state gave the county $1.2 million — only half can be spent on housing inmates at the jail — and that money will likely dry up by the end of March, leaving the county with another unfunded mandate.

RELATED: County running out of funds to house low level criminals

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