By Brett Milam
The Clermont Sun recently caught up with Loretta Rokey, Pierce Township’s administrator, to see how she has taken to the role and what her goals are for the township going forward.
Rokey started with Pierce Township in August of 2017 and handles the day-to-day operations and works within the $14 million budget for the township. Previously, she was the city manager for the city of Milford, who graduated from the University of Cincinnati with an associate degree in social services, a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in public administration.
It’s that sort of background that propelled Rokey into, and prepared her for, the township administrator job she has today.
“The short answer related to my approach to the job and interest in Pierce Township is that I have been in this business for a long time. After completing my master’s in public administration, I started my public service career with the City of Milford in 1990. I was the City Manager during the development of the Milford Commerce Park and Downtown Revitalization,” she said. “My last six years before coming to Pierce were with the Village of Glendale. I was very happy there and learned a lot about historic preservation in this charming community, but I saw the need and the opportunity to make a difference closer to home.”
She added, “In addition to being familiar with the area, I felt that I had gained experience and knowledge that provided a good fit for Pierce.”
Rokey said she grew up in the area and graduated from West Clermont, or at the time, Amelia High School and went on to the University of Cincinnati, including the Clermont campus.
“I find the differences between the forms of government most interesting. This is something most citizens do not realize as they drive through many communities to and from home,” she said. “The form of government determines the level of service each local government is structured to provide.”
As for what distinguishes the role of the administrator, which is an appointed position versus the role of elected officials, like the board of trustees, Rokey said she could provide a “lengthy civics lesson” on those roles.
“Ideally, the elected officials have the pulse of the community and lead the vision,” she said. “I put plans into action utilizing the staff and the budget authorized by the elected officials/Pierce Township Trustees. I coordinate the services provided through our capable department heads.”
In Pierce, Rokey said the police, fire and EMS services are levy-supported, along with the zoning department, street, service, parks and cemetery, which maintain the facilities. Rokey called it a “lean operation.”
“We also have a levy to provide garbage collection and recycling through a publicly bid contract,” she said. “I do a lot of communicating with the public, staff and our elected officials to receive questions/complaints and to provide answers/plans and seek solutions.”
The greatest challenge facing the township is the same as in most communities, Rokey said. That is, to provide the best services with the limited tax dollars received.
“Grant-writing is an important skill. No one wants to pay more taxes,” she said, noting that the township has been required to do more with less since state-funding has been “significantly reduced.”
She continued, “Pierce does not have a street levy or park levy so we rely heavily on the talent of staff to construct projects in-house. Our parks also rely on help from many volunteers who assist with trail maintenance, manage public events and do fundraising for special projects.”
Redevelopment of the Beckjord site is at the top of Rokey and the trustees’ list, she said.
“It is a key property that promises to bring new life to the US-52 corridor, which will enhance tax revenues most directly impacting Pierce Township, the village of New Richmond, Ohio Township and the New Richmond School District,” Rokey said. “This is also important to Clermont County and our region. We all need to work together to create an environment for success.”
Rokey also said the township is “carefully reviewing” opportunities for different TIF (tax increment financing) districts, where monies from property taxes goes to redevelopment. Such redevelopment would be to the “benefit of new residents and to support growing demands on our roadways and park infrastructure,” she said.
“All of these projects require additional study of existing zoning and infrastructure needs,” Rokey said. “We have a lot on our plate for the immediate future.”
The board of trustees meet on the second Wednesday of each month.
To reach Rokey, email her at email@example.com.