Dennis Recker, former administrator of the village of Whitehouse, is the new administrator of Northwood.
Recker will replace current Administrator Pat Bacon, who is retiring at the end of this month.
Northwood City Council unanimously approved Recker, upon Mayor Mark Stoner’s recommendation, at a special council meeting on Oct. 7. Recker will work with Bacon until she leaves office.
Recker told The Press that he applied for the job because the city has many strengths, including its attractive business environment and proximity to mass transportation.
“Northwood is situated in such a way that it has major outstanding features that could lead to further development,” said Recker. “They have it all – a good, strong workforce, excellent transportation – just a very, very fertile area for growth and development as we weather this economic downturn.”
As the administrator of Whitehouse, which has a population of 4,300 compared to Northwood’s 5,500, Recker prepared a downtown revitalization plan that was the basis for a major revitalization grant. The village secured pledges from over 80 percent of business operators and commercial property owners to participate in active improvement projects under the grant program. The village also worked with a local manufacturer and a local property owner to fund an expansion of the village industrial park.
In his cover letter to Northwood, Recker said the village staff and elected officials had refined the budget process to ensure that the five year capital spending plan supports the village comprehensive plan and moves the village toward growth.
Prior to being Whitehouse administrator, Recker was the safety service director for the city of Delphos, Ohio, which has a population of 7,000. As safety service director, Recker worked to build a working relationship with the chamber of commerce, the community improvement corporation and local school administrators to grow the local economic base. As a result, the city retained local employers and developed a commercial park with ready-to-build sites that attracted new commercial investment.
Recker beat out three other finalists picked from a group of 40 resumes that were submitted to the city several weeks ago. The finalists were Craig Kohring, chief financial officer from MDA Engineering, Inc., Maumee, chairman of the Northwood Planning Commission and an ex-city councilman; Robert Fowler, village administrator of Carrollton, Ohio; and Daniel G. Evers, a township administrator from Mason, Ohio.
Stoner and council conducted interviews with each of the candidates.
After the meeting, Stoner said one of the reasons he picked Recker is because of the way he handled himself during the interview.
“He’s well organized. I just had a good feeling about him,” said Stoner. “I liked his answers to questions during the interview. He seemed like an honest, straightforward individual.”
Recker’s annual salary will be $77,288, the same as Bacon’s.
Recker’s biggest challenge will be dealing with the city’s finances, which council has been struggling with in the last two years by making budget cuts, layoffs, and placing a proposed income tax increase on the November ballot.
“Our biggest challenge is to weather our economic storm, manage our resources, and get through this time of declining revenues,” said Recker. “I think we’re seeing some actual light at the end of the tunnel already, as far as our internal revenue and expenditure trends. We’re in decent shape. We’re moving in a good position. We expect that trend to continue. If it doesn’t, it just means further delay as we balance our budget and continue to carry out our operations in as cost-effective a manner as possible.”
Stoner agreed. Revenue, which has been dropping for several months, has been slowly inching up.
“We had a pretty good month last month, but we have an election coming up, and a budget we’ll start working on real soon,” said Stoner. [Recker] will be busy right off the bat – a baptism by fire. But he has good, solid, dependable department heads to help him out, too.”