Controller candidate vows to cut costs, not take raise
1st hopeful speaks about position
January 9, 2013
If Ben Holland is elected Butler County controller in November, his first priority would be to cut costs in that office. “I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to find some items in the controller’s budget,” he said. Holland, 26, of Connoquenessing Township pointed out the controller’s office budget continues to rise annually. The Republican is vying for the seat to be vacated by Controller Jack McMillin at the end of the year. McMillin, 60, of Zelienople announced his retirement Monday. Holland, who is the accounting manager for the Pittsburgh office of the McKesson Corp., said his experience in the private sector makes him qualified to assume the post in 2014. “I believe I can be that independent watchdog,” he said. Holland, who served on the Butler School Board from 2007 to 2011, pledged to forego any pay increases for himself if elected. “It’s going to start with me first,” he said. “I’m not going to accept a pay raise.” The base annual salary for controller is $80,540. The county commissioners and row officers receive automatic salary increases every year. Commissioners Bill McCarrier and Dale Pinkerton refused a raise for 2013. Holland said his experience in the private sector, which includes working for the Pittsburgh firm McCrory & McDowell doing auditing as well as preparing tax returns, gave him ideas on how to make the office more efficient and save money. “We’re going to take a look at how we can modernize the office,” he said. After pruning the controller’s budget, Holland would then look at other areas in county government. He said the cost of county government shouldn’t be going up when elderly residents are only receiving a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment in their social security checks. Holland cited his record as a school board member, maintaining his pledge not to vote for tax hikes. “I’m a proven fiscal conservative,” he said. McMillin has come into conflict with some county officials on spending. Holland said he would work with everyone for the county’s benefit. “I won’t let any personalities get in the way of getting the job done as controller,” he said. McMillin is known for always providing financial information upon request, and Holland said he would do the same. “I’d be more than happy to be accessible,” he said. “There will always be an open-door policy.” Holland is the first person to announce candidacy for the post. Debbie Huth, McMillin’s deputy controller, said on Wednesday she hasn’t ruled out running for the seat in the May 21 primary. The top Republican and Democrat vote-getters in the primary will run in the Nov. 5 election. Holland has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Grove City College and is a 2005 graduate of Butler High School. He was chairman of the Butler County Young Republicans for five years, during which he was named Man of the Year by the Pennsylvania Federation of Young Republicans. Holland is the treasurer of the Rotary Club of Butler, a board member for Pittsburgh West Central chapter of the American Red Cross and a volunteer for Big Brother for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Butler County. He also is a committee member with St. Barnabas’ Presents for Patients and a member of the Mars Home for Youth finance committee.