Matas decides to stay in Lake County

Administrator hire changes mind; commissioners ‘regroup’

WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners are back at square one in looking for a county administrator / purchasing director.

The man they hired for the job Feb. 20, Michael Matas of Cortland, is staying put in his position as Lake County budget director. Matas made his plans known in a three-line email sent Tuesday to commissioners.

“Thank you for your consideration and the opportunity you offered. As discussed, I am formally submitting my resignation, effective immediately, due to a family matter,” the email states. Matas was supposed to start work March 19.

He said Thursday the decision was a “personal, family matter that just came up,” and he had “discussed it with (Trumbull) commissioners.”

Commissioners on Feb. 20 by a 2-1 vote approved hiring Matas at a salary of $95,000 per year. Trumbull County last had an administrator in 2006.

Matas earns $125,143 in Lake County, according to a salary database on the Ohio Treasurer’s Office website.

He was chairman of the Trumbull County Budget Review Committee, which recommended in 2017 the county create and fill the positions, along with 17 other suggestions.

In a letter to Trumbull County officials, Lake County Commissioner John R. Hamercheck states Matas can be characterized as “a franchise player” for Lake County, and because of that “maximum effort” was put forth to keep him in Lake County government.

Hamercheck wrote that Matas’ continued employment with Lake County “is not a function of money, rather one of respect and principle.”

A message seeking comment was left with Hamercheck.

Trumbull County Commissioner Daniel Polivka said he regrets the decision by Matas, saying he “had a lot to offer.”

“It is very unfortunate he changed his mind. I believe he would have paid his salary five-fold in savings,” Polivka said because of Matas’ qualifications and his knowledge of budgets and central purchasing.

Said Trumbull County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa, “It’s disappointing, No. 1, because Mr. Matas had a unique skill set and brings a lot of experience to the table as well as being a younger resident of Trumbull County. He would have been a good fit.”

Commissioner Frank Fuda, who voted against hiring Matas because he believes the county can’t afford the position, stuck Thursday with that opinion.

“We don’t need an administrator,” Fuda said. “We don’t have the money for an administrator.”

Polivka and Cantalamessa said the plan is to regroup and decide what to do next. Polivka said the hiring committee will be consulted while Cantalamessa said there are a number of options, including expanding the search or considering a previous applicant.

“Right now, everything is on the table,” Cantalamessa said.