Beatrice is losing its city attorney after he accepted a position this week in Seward as the city administrator.
The Seward City Council voted Tuesday night to appoint Greg Butcher to the position, following a recommendation from the mayor. He plans to start his new role on May 3.
Butcher, who has been Beatrice’s city attorney since 2012, was the only finalist for the position. He said he’ll miss the city workers in Beatrice, and added that learning to trust their experience is one lesson he’s taking with him.
“We have a great staff here and I have no complaints about any single one of them,” Butcher said. “They work their tails off to provide the best services for city of Beatrice. I’ve learned a lot from each and every one of them about what they do on a daily basis to provide municipal service.”
Butcher said one of his first objectives in Seward will be to institute a formal set of goals as part of a long-term plan, similar to what Beatrice groups have done for Gage County.
“That was an amazing undertaking the city took along with school, chamber and NGage (an economic development group) to set our goals last year,” he said. “That gave us a road map. When you’re not doing the daily work of things you need to get done on the smaller level, you can use that map for large-scale projects.”
During his time in Beatrice, Butcher has been active in projects involving tax increment financing (TIF), community development block grants and LB840 economic development funds.
He works with union contracts and other administrative issues, in addition to grant writing, which he said has been one of his greatest accomplishments.
Butcher has written nearly $1 million in grants for roads, parks and other Beatrice projects.
Hiring Butcher required a vote from the Seward City Council, which Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier said was approved unanimously with seven of the eight council members present.
The position starts at an annual salary of $106,080, compared to the Beatrice city attorney salary of approximately $77,000.
Eickmeier said he first met Butcher when the two worked for different state senators, and he feels Butcher will be a good fit in Seward, thanks in part to Butcher’s experience with grant writing and other things.
“Knowing his background I thought he was very qualified for the position,” Eickmeier said. “His experience in Beatrice, even though it may seem like a surprise to go to this role from a city attorney, a lot of what he’s done in Beatrice has involved city administrator work and responsibilities in addition to his city attorney role.
“It’s not that big of a leap when you look at what he’s been able to do in Beatrice. He has a positive attitude and with his background, I think he is very driven to do well and wants to succeed.”
Additionally, work with TIF funds, LB840 funds, economic development projects and grant writing is a big reason Beatrice has a full-time city attorney in the first place, according to Beatrice City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer.
“If you look at just legal work, no, there’s not enough for a full-time city attorney,” he said. “However, our city attorney wears many hats and does other things. Look at the downtown revitalization grant. That’s administered by the city attorney. You put all those areas of work together and yes, it’s certainly a full-time position.”
Tempelmeyer said the city is accepting applications for the position until May 22, and expects it will be around late June before the position is filled. In the meantime, Tempelmeyer, who was the city attorney before being named the administrator, will handle the city attorney work.
Butcher said it’s the people he’ll miss the most.
“There are a number of people, places and things I’ll miss dearly,” Butcher said. “First and foremost, I’ll miss all the kids I’ve coached. Both my sons play in sports at the YMCA. I’ve met great parents and kids coaching basketball, football and soccer.”