Sheila McLaughlin reports
A special meeting on Monday to approve an offer for a new county administrator erupted into a squabble and accusations that lame duck Butler County Commissioner Chuck Furmon was intentionally snubbed from an executive session when his colleagues changed the usual meeting place without telling him.
At the end of the day, however, Commissioners Don Dixon and Cindy Carpenter decided to offer the administrator’s job to former Hamilton deputy city manager Charles Young.
They also clarified the county’s pay scales to accommodate a $125,000-a-year salary for Young. That figure was $44,000 more than what commissioners approved when a consultant put together a pay study and recommended wage scales last year.
“You know as well as I do everything is all precast. It’s a dog and pony show,” Furmon charged at his fellow commissioners, adding that resolutions involving Young’s hire were drawn up before the meeting and he wasn’t privy to them.
The meeting was marked by interruptions from Dixon and Carpenter to go to a vote on the salary as Furmon tried to express his opinion about the job offer to Young.
Twenty-nine people applied for the administrator’s position and two applicants received job offers but turned them down. The job has been vacant for just more than a year.
“For someone who didn’t attend all the meetings for the interviews in the past, I find it kind of ironic that you want to have a discussion,” Dixon chastised Furmon.
“I’ve attended 99 percent of those meetings,” Furmon fired back.
“I disagree,” said Carpenter.
Furmon’s final words: “The whole thing’s a joke.”
Furmon voted against going into executive session, but lost out.
Dixon, who is board president, didn’t announce where the executive session would be held during Monday’s meeting. It’s usual location is in the conference room at the commissioner’s sixth-floor office at the Government Services Center.
Furmon said he went there and waited. Dixon and Carpenter met instead in a room behind the commissioner’s public meeting room on the second floor.
Furmon said he tried to call the interim county administrator to find out where everybody was, but his phone was turned off.
“In my 16 years as county commissioner and my term as (Hamilton) mayor, I’ve never experienced anything where the decorum wasn’t at least (to have) the courtesy of getting to say your piece. That’s absurd. They obviously didn’t want me to,” Furmon said.
Dixon said everybody on the commission’s staff knew where the executive session was going to be held although Furmon wasn’t part of those conversations.
“My phone was on. We were in executive session for about 50 minutes,” Dixon said. “I can’t imagine being lost in that building for an hour.”
Young, an engineer, said he intends to formally accept the administrator’s job and should start work on Thursday after he receives the official appointment at the next commissioner’s meeting.
Young would not discuss his abrupt resignation from Hamilton in February. He was in charge of the city’s utilities.
“I’d rather not go into it. I’d much rather focus on the future with Butler County and where we’ll be heading as we move forward,” he said.
Dixon said Young was a good fit for the job because of his background in city management and his experience with utility services at a time when Butler County is planning for improvements to its $100 million water system.
“He has some economic development background. He’s strong on utilities,” Dixon said. “I think he has everything we are looking for.”