By Scott Halasz
XENIA — Brandon Huddleson was named Greene County administrator Thursday after spending six months as the interim.
County commissioners voted unanimously to promote Huddleson, 40, who had been appointed assistant administrator in February and then acting administrator when the board was unable to find a replacement for long-time administrator Howard Poston, who retired Feb. 28.
“As part of the review process, the county commissioners have been pleased with regards to the job Mr. Huddleson has been doing,” Commission President Bob Glaser said.
Huddleson will get a hefty pay raise from $72,500 to $100,000 and will receive a maximum of $15,000 per year for education expenses, including tuition, registration and books. He must pass all courses with a “C” or better per the agreement. Huddleson said he has enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan, where he will begin pursuit of a business degree Sept. 4.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” Huddleson said.
The promotion — retroactive to Aug. 11 — ends a hectic six-month period that saw the county lose Poston, choose a replacement who did not accept the contract offer, and then finally promote from within.
“We have gone through a bit of an odyssey since the resignation of our past county administrator,” Glaser said.
The board was in negotiations to hire Warren Brown from Sandusky County, but he backed out for personal reasons that had to do with the contract’s length, Brown said at the time.
Huddleson is working without a contract, at his request.
“I earn my job every day,” he said. “I’ve never worked on an employment contract. I’ve never asked for an employment contract.”
Commissioner Tom Koogler thinks Huddleson has more than earned the job.
“Brandon has, I think, exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Koogler said. “I have every confidence he will continue to exceed our expectations.”
One elected county official is not thrilled with the promotion, however.
“This is a total embarrassment to Greene County,” County Engineer Bob Geyer said when contacted by the Xenia Daily Gazette and Fairborn Daily Herald to comment about another story. “Unbelievable. How can you take a guy with a high school education … give him $100,000 a year and give him $15,000 to go to school after you tell him he doesn’t need an education to do his job? That’s ridiculous. I get really emotional about this, because this is my damn county.
“I can’t speak for all the other elected officials,” Geyer added. “Nobody will say anything publicly. I don’t have to deal with him (for money). My budget is my budget.”
Koogler had said in the commission meeting that he asked other county administrators about the importance of an education and was told the on-the-job education is far more valuable.
“I respect Bob Geyer’s experience in what he’s done for the county,” Koogler said. “It’s easy for me to understand the situation because I never went to college. I ran a business that was $750 million, 52 operations in three states and I was vice-president in a Fortune 500 company. Wisdom and experience will trump a degree every day of the week.”
Koogler also said that because Huddleson is working without a contract, the commissioners have more leeway.
“We will not hesitate to make sure that any decision made is in the best interest in Greene County,” Koogler said. “I believe the decision we made today is in the best interest in Greene County.
Huddleson declined comment when asked about what Geyer said.
Since he became assistant and acting administrator, Huddleson has worked closely with the county’s department of development to make sure the county continues to grow economically.
“That’s at the forefront, beside doing what we’re already doing,” Huddleson said. “I want to be more aggressive in (economic development) in Greene County than we’ve ever been.”
Huddleson said he also wants to work closely with all county entities.
“Their challenges are our challenges,” Huddleson said.
Huddleson, who lives in Ross Township, started in the sanitary engineering department about 14 years ago and eventually became a supervisor, a manager and then director of the county services department, where he was in charge of a $2.7 million budget and 32 employees.
Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Xenia Daily Gazette. He can be reached at 937-502-4507.