WM manager put on leave

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — West Milton municipal manager Matthew Kline has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending the results of an investigation.

“The only official statement that I can tell you right now is manager Kline is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation,” mayor Anthony Miller said. “It’s a personnel matter, and that’s all we can say.”

Village council members discussed the investigation briefly during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 27, in response to questions from citizens. Guidelines set forth in the village charter say officials “may suspend the manager from duty for a period not to exceed 45 days.”

The guidelines do not specify if a suspension should be paid or un-paid.

“That was our determination,” Miller said. “It doesn’t say that you can’t, and you don’t have to.”

In other business, council members also passed a resolution allowing the village to utilize CARES Act funding to pay police and other emergency personnel costs, which have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and discussed the purchase of a new police cruiser for the village police department.

The cruiser’s purchase had been put off, but a clerical error at the dealership led them to order it by accident. The error came to light this week, and village officials were notified that the cruiser has been ordered; council members will now vote to either purchase the cruiser or cancel the order at their next meeting in November.

Orders for police and fire vehicles have been backed up recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it could take over a year to get another cruiser later.

“They’re estimating over a year now,” service director Ben Herron said.

“The cruiser itself was extremely needed,” he said. “I think it’s in our best interest to go ahead and take that.”

The cruiser will cost $31,579, plus an additional fee for outfitting including cages, radios and other equipment. “That’s a pretty good deal,” Herron said.

The cruiser’s cost would be offset by income tax revenues, which so far are only off by approximately 10 percent for the year. “We were anticipating up to 30 percent income tax reduction,” Herron said.

Council members also discussed options for adding recycling to the village’s new trash collection program and heard an update on the Ludlow Falls sewer project.

“We’re actually going to have two crews in the area starting tomorrow,” West Milton utilities supervisor Tim Swartztrauber said. “They’ll be cutting some asphalt and laying out the project. They’re going to start a crew up in Ludlow Falls, doing the gravity main, and we’ll have a crew here starting around the Donna Jane area.”

Council members discussed several options for recycling, including residential pick-up with recycling bins and stations where residents could drop-off recyclables.

“Either way, we’ll have to bid and make that contract out,” Herron said. “We could do two stations, or we could do a larger container, whatever’s more convenient for our citizens.”

Council members also heard comments from planning board member and former mayor Jason Tinnerman, discussing the possibility of legislation to limit the number of apartment buildings permitted in the village.

“I know other towns have done this, where they limit the number of apartments that can be built within town,” Tinnerman said. “We’re trying to be a little bit pro-active here, instead of someone coming along and wanting to build a large apartment complex, and not having the grounds to stand on if it’s something council decides they don’t want.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Miller said. “I think it would behoove us to look into something along those lines just for future protection, because we don’t know what’s coming.”

The proposed legislation could take several weeks or months to prepare, and would focus on prohibiting new construction of four to six-unit, multi-family dwellings. Condominiums and assisted-living cottages, like those planned for the Stillwater Crossings development, would still be permitted. “I don’t think that’s in the realm of what we’re looking at,” Tinnerman said. “This would just be more for apartments.”

Village council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10. Trick or treat will be held from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.