Economic development director’s leave ‘not a disciplinary action’

Chris Xeil Lyons placed on paid administrative leave last month, according to her personnel file

Three months after receiving a salary increase, Middletown’s economic development director was placed on paid administrative leave, according to her personnel file reviewed by the Journal-News.

Chris Xeil Lyons, Middletown’s economic development director for the last two years, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 25, pending “further investigation,” she told the Journal-News. She didn’t want to disclose any of the details regarding the action.

In a letter dated March 24, Paul Lolli, Middletown’s acting city manager, wrote that Lyons was placed on paid administrative leave pending “further investigation into matters related” to her employment.

Lyons was told to “immediately relinquish” her city keys, fobs, passwords and codes to Lolli. If she had any city owned property at home, the city would send a representative to pick up those items, Lolli wrote.

But he wrote the paid administrative leave was “not a disciplinary action or adverse employment action.”

He said the leave would last until Lyons received written notice.

Middletown City Council is scheduled to go into executive session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting to consider the appointment or dismissal of public officials, according to the agenda. It’s unclear if that session is related to Lyons’ employment.

Earlier, before the Journal obtained the personnel file, Lolli, in a text message to the Journal, wrote “no comment” when asked if he could confirm whether Lyons was placed on leave.

The city is operating without a city manager, assistant city manager, and the top two leaders of its economic development staff.

Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic director, has submitted his letter of resignation. He’s on PTO and his last official day with the city is Friday. He has accepted a position as community and economic development director for the city of Moraine, located south of Dayton.

Jim Palenick, who served as city manager for less than two years, signed a separation agreement with the city last month, and Assistant City Manager Susan Cohen has been named administrator for Union Twp. in Clermont County.

In March 2020, Lyons, who had 24 years of experience in the business, was named economic development director and was paid $95,166 per year. She earned an overall score of “meeting standards” in one of her evaluations.

Earlier this year, in a letter from Megan Ellis, human resources interim manager, Lyons was applauded for her “continuing good performance” with the city and her yearly salary was increased to $116,030, according to her personnel file.

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