A county commissioner is a commissioner 24 hours a day. Every action an elected official takes reflects on the office to which he or she is elected. A County Commissioner must always be responsible in every activity and be conscious how it will affect others."
The commissioners are also the voices of county government and represent the county's citizens in contacts with
They are also ... the leadership of the county. This is generally done through the budget and procurement processes, but it is also done by example and maturity. True leadership is something I learned on the factory floor as a foreman and during my 24 years of commissioned service in the
Q: For the first time in years, the county is now operating with a surplus. What would you do to either keep spending at its current levels, or even reduce it?
Matacic: "Some elected officeholders think that getting elected and attending meetings is good enough. Good enough just is not good enough any longer.
There are many good business practices that would help
* PLANNING: Successful businesses plan ahead. Successful governments do as well. I would institute and maintain a 7-year comprehensive budget plan -- this would include day-to-day operations, maintenance and upkeep, capital replacement, and debt service/retirement;
* FISCAL RESTRAINT: Just because a government has money does not mean it should spend it all. Increasing the operating surplus by empowering each department to manage their budgets and make suggestions on how to be even more efficient without sacrificing service;
* DEREGULATION: Monitoring legislation that impacts the budget in order to plan ahead and be prepared;
* DISCIPLINE: Insure financial analysis is completed on any project prior to committing to any assistance with the project;
* INNOVATION: Find more ways to collaborate with other entities."
Nafziger: "From what I have seen in the commissioner meetings, it appears that once the annual budget is prepared, it's not used as a plan to guide the county's expenditures for the fiscal year. I would expect it to be a limit on expenditures that would be rigorously enforced, but it is not. It is the regular practice of the commissioners to approve new expenditures that were not part of the original budget, without asking for off-setting reductions in expenditures elsewhere in the budget, or identifying new sources of income to cover those new expenditures. The practice of "Then and Now" contracts also has a negative impact on the budget since in the two years I've been studying the county's budget, they have not had a clean closing of the books at the end of the fiscal year."
Q: What measures would you support to prevent deficit spending from happening again?
Matacic: "In addition to the above, it is important to have an ongoing citizens/business volunteer committee to review on a quarterly basis finances/levies and make recommendations to the commission. This would give additional oversight and opportunities for new ideas. Furthermore, as commissioner, I would work with other commissioners and departments to identify their needs. Department heads should not be dictated to -- they should be respected as professionals. Using fear and intimidation is a practice that will end."
Nafziger: "From my 37 years of experience in business and industry, the most important tool for managing money is the budget. It determines how money is to be spent, where it is to be spent, and how much is to be spent. If the budget is well-developed, if it is used to control how monies are spent, it is the key to ensuring that the county doesn't get into financial trouble.
I'd insist that the budget be enforced as something that is not to be exceeded except in the case of a true emergency. If something comes up that requires an unanticipated expenditure, my first approach would be to see where a corresponding reduction could be made; failing that, I'd see if another source (not tax increases) can be identified to deal with the emergency. I would establish a serious program of using the rainy-day fund for true emergencies and when funds are taken out, reducing the next fiscal year's budget to refill what was taken from it for the current emergency."
Q: Under what circumstance would you support, or call for, any type of tax increase?
Matacic: "People are taxed too much. It is the responsibility of county commissioners to exhibit restraint and create an atmosphere friendly to families and employers.
Before any agency would be permitted to request an increase, a complete financial analysis of the income and expenses for the past as well as a projection of the future would need to be completed. This would give a better picture of the situation. We should also evaluate if a program's or initiative's life span has run its course or if
Nafziger: "I believe that our county government is more than adequately funded and that no tax increase is necessary under any circumstances. With the proper management of the monies received at this time, there will be no need to raise taxes, and I would oppose any such effort. I believe that the simple implementation of a central procurement department that will oversee all procurements, impose simple money management procedures, and establish a single individual responsible for the oversight of all procurements will save the county significant sums. This single individual would be charged with ensuring that contracts are placed in a timely manner and will ensure that the benefits of competitive bidding are achieved."
Q: Butler County Children Services is undergoing a departmental overhaul. What changes need to be made with Children Services, and what can you do to ensure the appropriate changes are implemented and followed?
When bad things happen, we should be open about it and provide as much information as is allowable. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Privacy for children does not equal secrecy for an organization. Children Services is an area that requires checks and balances due to the sensitive nature of the business at hand."
Nafziger: "It appears the principal problem is the oversight of children placed in the custody of support services that are not located in
There are three other possible options: 1.) Increase the travel budget to permit
Let me say that these are just raw ideas that require significant investigation and evaluation before any serious proposal can be made. They are a starting point."
Q: Many of the independently elected countywide office-holders seemingly do not communicate well with each other. Regardless if this is just a perception, reality or a mix of the two, how do you plan to work with the other county office holders, repair any communication problems and operate a cohesive county government?
Matacic: "I was elected President of the
In my position as a
Nafziger: "As a retired
Q: What would you do to improve the communication among the other county office holders?
Matacic: "It is important to conduct business in a professional and respectful nature. Open honest discussions and working together without the 'got you' approach yields better results and a better atmosphere in which to work and accomplish goals. This has been my approach in
As commissioner, my door will always be open to other elected office holders -- at all levels."
Nafziger: "As it stands now, the various elected officials are distributed to several different locations and, therefore, are isolated from each other. The simple holding of a periodic staff meeting where all office holders get together and discuss common or unique problems would be the first step. My experience in the corporate world, as well as in the
Q: Is the
Matacic: "There is a reason I am running for county commissioner, and there is a reason that I am seeking this particular seat. As I have said before, 'good enough' just is not good enough any more. Hiding meetings from other commissioners, seeking to replace good employees with hand-picked cronies, threatening county employees with their lives, and interfering with department heads are unacceptable and must change.
Since I do not currently work in the office I can only go off news articles and what others say. What I can comment on is the perception that it appears there is no 'team' approach.
In order to improve upon the atmosphere and efficiencies of the office, I would operate similarly to how I have worked in
Nafziger: "I have no direct exposure to the internal functioning of the commissioners' office that allows me to address this issue. However, if there are problems with its efficiency, they surely arise from the fact that there is no one individual responsible for giving direction to the office because there are three equal commissioners.
I would advocate an agreement between the three commissioners where the President or other member of the commission is given the responsibility and authority to manage the office, on a unilateral basis. If funds are required, then it should be handled in the normal manner in the bi-weekly commission meetings. When more than one person controls, then nobody controls. Conflicting direction from people of equal authority always produces inefficiencies. I am a firm believer that where possible, a single responsible individual is always a superior method of management of a particular function."
Q: Given Butler County's recent bad political history with some countywide office holders, its reputation has been cast in a negative light. What can be done to improve
Matacic: "The first thing that must happen is that professional leadership must be brought to this seat.
The reputation of
Nafziger: "Bad reputations are hard to repair. The first step is to look at what permitted the actions that have hurt
A hiring program where all jobs are posted and advertised and where no elected official's family members will be considered for any position within the county government is a second step.
The county has just instituted a new performance review process. I am very impressed by this new system developed by Mr.
Q: Give two to three ideas you'd advocate for that could grow jobs in
Matacic: "Jobs are vitally important to the success of
* Coordinate and expand efforts when it comes to the
* Encourage business collaboration with the universities and other educational facilities to insure appropriate training and retraining is available for our workforce.
* Continue and expand on involvement with communities and organizations that impact the county, the region, the state and the nation so we are better prepared for the future."
Nafziger: "I have watched industrial jobs leaving
When the commissioners eliminated the community development organization, they ate their seed corn. New business will not come to
My first target group is the beverage business. We sit on the Miami Aquifer, the second-largest source of underground water in the U.S. Miller Brewing came here because of that. We didn't go to Miller, they found us. Why aren't other beverage companies here? I fully intend to go to them and sell
My second target is the gun industry. We have our very own steel mill here and guns are made of steel. That means new business to
My third step is to talk to the major industries in
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