Lake County administrator offered job in Florida

Lake County Administrator Barry Burton has been offered the administrator's post in a county on Florida's Gulf Coast.

The job offer from Pinellas County comes as Burton, his staff and the county board face public criticism for how county board expense accounts and credit cards have been managed.

That scrutiny was prompted by revelations of financial misuse by county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. Burton, who was responsible for signing Lawlor's monthly expense invoices, and other officials have since said they intend to change procedures and improve oversight of card usage.

An unspecified law enforcement agency has asked to investigate Lawlor's use of the card, the state's attorney's office has said. No charges have been filed, and Lawlor is on an indefinite leave of absence from the county board as he receives treatment for drug addiction.

The seven-member Pinellas County Board voted last week to offer the job to Burton, according to a news release, but Burton has not yet accepted. He said he is negotiating contract terms.

Burton, 54, called leaving Lake County "a tough decision."

"These positions don't come open very often, and I felt it was time for a new challenge," said Burton, who lives near Antioch.

Pinellas County includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Burton was one of three finalists for the job after a national search, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The current Pinellas administrator is retiring. The position will pay between $212,000 and $275,000 annually, the Times reported.

Burton has led Lake County's staff since January 2002. He previously served as deputy county administrator for Franklin County, Ohio, which includes Columbus.

During his time in Lake County, Burton led the government through the Great Recession and helped implement several cost-savings moves and other financial strategies to keep the county operating effectively during that tough economic period.

Significant projects during his tenure included the construction of a central permit facility in Libertyville, the privatization of the county-owned Winchester House nursing home and the recently completed courthouse expansion in Waukegan.

"Barry and his dedicated team of professionals deliver on the county board's mission of providing exceptional, financially sustainable services," said Carol Calabresa, the county board's acting chairwoman. "Because of their efforts, Lake County is fiscally stable."

Burton collects a $247,090 annual salary, county officials said. His other benefits include a $7,000 car allowance.

Burton said he has been "so fortunate" to lead the Lake County staff for nearly 17 years.

"I am very proud of the tremendous staff we have in Lake County and the professionalism they bring to their job each day. I am truly going to miss them," Burton said.

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