By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MOUNT HEALTHY - The city has filled two key positions, a month after both the fire chief and safety-service director quit during contentious budget negotiations.
Mayor George Rouse said Wednesday that he has hired Bill Kocher, who was Mount Healthy's safety-service director four years, leaving in 1997.
Kocher, who now lives in New Jersey, will become the city's top administrative official, starting May 24, the mayor said.
Kocher's salary, which City Council must approve, is under negotiation, Rouse said.
Rouse said he had worked for Kocher, one of two candidates interviewed, as head of the public works department.
"I had seen him as safety-service director, and he was excellent," the mayor said. "I think he'll be a valuable addition to the city."
Jim Koshmider stepped down from the safety-service post on March 12, saying only that the city was looking to go in "a new direction."
Rouse also announced at Tuesday night's City Council meeting that he has appointed Lt. Steve Lawson, the city's only full-time firefighter, as chief, effective immediately.
Lawson replaces Chief Tom Harris, a volunteer fireman who announced his resignation March 6 after proposed fire department staff cuts.
Lawson, a Mount Healthy native, has been a city firefighter since 1985.
Capt. Tim Doerger will serve as assistant fire chief, replacing Harris' brother Tim, who left a few weeks after Tom Harris.
Lawson was one of four candidates, all current firefighters, the mayor said.
"I could have put (the names) all in a hat and pulled one out and been pleased with all of them, that's how good they are," Rouse said.
Devona Davis, a Mount Healthy resident, has also been hired as deputy auditor, officials said.
Council also adopted ordinances increasing salaries by 2.5 percent for city employees on Tuesday.
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