By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MONROE - The personnel chart above Bill Brock's City Hall desk lists six vacancies.
Brock last week scratched out "vacant" on one job: city manager.
The acting city manager/assistant city manager/city engineer was named to the city's top administrative post Tuesday. He assumed the manager's duties a year ago in the midst of a $3.1 million financial crisis that could result in the city being placed in fiscal emergency or fiscal watch in March by the Ohio auditor.
"This really puts you to a test. But I started on this problem, and I want to see it through," says Brock, 35. "If you can manage this, then what else is there?"
Brock and Jay Stewart, also 35, the planning director/finance director, took over running the city when City Manager Donald Whitman and Finance Director David Collins resigned after the discovery of deficit city accounts.
Brock and Stewart urged council to lay off five city employees, cut budgets, eliminate capital improvements and street resurfacing, raise garbage collection and other fees, and defer bond payments to 2005. By last December, they had turned a $650,000 general fund deficit into a $1.4 million surplus, a $2 million revenue swing in nine months.
But this Butler County city of 8,500 halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati needs at least $2 million more in surplus funds to cover the deficit accounts dating back four years. The deficits are from construction debts for the new City Hall, police headquarters, two firehouses and the city garage built in the last six years, Stewart says.
"It's going to take several years to rectify," Brock says.
Council members were so pleased with his effort they gave Brock a $9,400 raise, to $81,500, and keys to the big corner office.
"We were very lucky to have him," says Mayor Bob Routson. "We went through some difficult times, and he accepted the challenge and did a good job."
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