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Trumbull commissioners and committee discuss hiring of county administrator

By Ed Runyan

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

By Ed Runyan


The Trumbull County commissioners and a committee they appointed to review job applications for a new position of county administrator/purchasing director demonstrated Tuesday they are serious about “transparency” in the process.

Volunteers James Dignan, Darlene St. George and Dennis Blank had their first meeting at noon in the commissioners’ meeting room and talked openly about the five finalists to be interviewed for the job next week.

For example, all three members spoke about the candidacy of Mike Matas of Cortland. Matas was chairman of the Citizens Budget Review Committee that recommended the hiring of a county administrator, which raised questions about whether his role on the committee should exclude him from consideration for the job.

Committee members turned to Stephan Stoyak, another member of the citizens committee also in attendance Tuesday to ask whether Matas appeared to be driving the idea of adding a county administrator.

Stoyak, of Liberty Township, said the county administrator recommendation was a “slam dunk” by the committee, and “I can honestly say every recommendation was by the committee, not by a single person.” Stoyak said in most instances, the recommendations were unanimous.

Blank, a retired publishing executive and a 2015 Warren mayoral candidate, said he is satisfied “the distance” between Matas as a candidate and Matas’ role on the committee is enough not to disqualify him for the job.

Blank and Dignan, former commander of the 910th Airlift Wing of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and now chief operating officer of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, both said Matas was among their top candidates for the position.

“I don’t have a problem calling him in for an interview,” St. George, Howland Township administrator, said of Matas.

In addition to Matas, the committee will be inviting Warren Brown of Clyde, Ohio, human resources/loss prevention/revenue enhancement for Huron County; James D. Brutz, equipment buyer for AVI Foodsystems of Warren; Larry L. Collins of Saline, Mich., former assistant city administrator for the city of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Gina Angle of Warren, human-resources consultant.

Blank said he was disappointed at how many of the candidates did not appear to be qualified for the job but said he thinks more qualified people might have applied if the job advertisments would have indicated the salary range being offered.

Richard Jackson, county human resources director, who is assisting the committee with its work, said earlier the job would pay between $66,897 and $95,673 annually depending on experience.

Commissioners Dan Polivka and Mauro Cantalamessa told the committee members at the start of the meeting they wanted them to have their meetings open to the public, despite the sensitive nature of hiring someone.

Commissioner Dan Polivka said later one reason for that openness is that County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins declared the closing of certain meetings by the citizens budget review committee probably violated Ohio’s open meetings laws.

The county commissioners have not had an administrator since the last one left in 2006, but Cantalamessa and Polivka say they believe an administrator will streamline implementation of the commissioners’ decisions and consolidating purchasing will save the county money.