With a pay increase and a department-head status, Worthington leaders are emphasizing the importance of their new information-technology director.

Worthington City Council on July 17 approved a revised job description and pay structure for the position, bumping the salary from $82,089 to $120,000 a year.

On July 31, the city announced the hiring of Gene Oliver for the position. Oliver comes from HKT Teleservices (formerly PCCW Teleservices) in Dublin, where he served as vice president of IT and chief information officer.

The city paid $20,000 to hire an executive-recruiting firm to help attract candidates, and City Manager Matt Greeson said leaders are thrilled to hire Oliver.

"He's a highly experienced, well-known IT leader in the region," Greeson said. "We're ecstatic to have him as part of the team."

In addition to his $120,000 salary, Oliver will be eligible for a benefits package that includes required contributions of 14 percent of his salary to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and insurance benefits ranging from $11,165 to $25,045, depending on the selection of single or family coverage, according to city officials.

Oliver's hiring concludes a process to revamp the position.

Worthington hired Sophisticated Systems to assess staffing and overall structure. Greeson said the consulting firm helped "provide a road map for some of the improvements we want to make" with the position.

The city has been without an IT director for about a year since former director Mike Horvath retired. Greeson said Horvath was a fantastic employee, but the position is evolving so fast that the city needed to keep up and use the opportunity to assess what it needs from the position.

"It's such an important role in the life of city government -- and any organization -- and obviously, IT is a rapidly changing field; it always has been," Greeson said. "We always have high expectations for our people ... but our desire is to elevate that position to a director role and try to keep up with what are constantly evolving trends in the field of information technology for cities."

In a news release, Oliver touched on the widespread effects of the new position.

"I have a passion for bringing technology solutions to improve services for the community and to help drive economic development," he said. "I look forward to being part of the city's leadership team and to making an immediate contribution to advance the goals and objectives of that team."

The director position is unlikely to be the last IT-related change in Worthington.

Greeson said the rest of the department would be reviewed and could continue to evolve.

"We'll probably continue to evaluate and wrestle with ... some staffing resources and allocation in that area," he said. "In addition to this change, we'll look and see if we need to add some resources to the (IT) area. ... Everything we do now has a technology component."

Oliver's first day on the job will be Aug. 14.