Former Toledo city finance director George Sarantou started work Wednesday as the new administrator of Lucas County Probate Court.
Mr. Sarantou resigned from his city position Aug. 2 amid questions over why more than $8 million sat idle in the city's debt service fund for five years. A Republican, he had been a city council member for 12 years before being hired as finance director in 2014 by then-Mayor D. Michael Collins.
Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger introduced Mr. Sarantou to his staff Wednesday morning — a day after Mr. Sarantou's former boss, Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson was defeated in her re-election bid.
Mr. Sarantou, 65, takes the place of Charles Shaffer, who died Sept. 10 of complications from diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure. Mr. Shaffer had been the only Probate Court administrator under Judge Puffenberger, who took office in 1991.
Mr. Sarantou said he had planned to retire from public office and focus on his private business as a financial planner when Judge Puffenberger approached him in October about the job.
“I've always enjoyed public service,” he said. “It's something I value, and I think it is important to do a good job in the public sector, and I'm just not ready to retire like a lot of people at my age.”
Mr. Sarantou reiterated what he said publicly in August when he stepped down as city finance director.
“I thought I was becoming a distraction, and that's why I resigned on my own and decided that I wanted to make a change,” he said. “I felt that the timing was excellent, and I had no regrets about doing that.”
The judge said that while Mr. Sarantou is new to Probate Court, he has the experience needed to run the business end of the court “overseeing all aspects of the court — all personnel issues, all budgetary issues, all of our contacts with other agencies and departments.”
In his new position, Mr. Sarantou will be paid $82,000 a year, the judge said.
“I've always been impressed with his dedication to public service, and he has the perfect experience and knowledge to serve as our court administrator,” Judge Puffenberger said. “He's well respected in the community, and I really look forward to working with him.”
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.