Middletown takes next step to hire fire chief as city manager

Paul Lolli, Middletown's acting city manager and fire chief, is expected to be named city manager later this month. CONTRIBUTED

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Paul Lolli, Middletown's acting city manager and fire chief, is expected to be named city manager later this month. CONTRIBUTED

City Council hears legislation that increases ‘real deal’ Paul Lolli’s salary $42,000.

Paul Lolli, hired in March as Middletown’s acting city manager, appears ready to be named city manager.

Middletown City Council heard the first reading of a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting that accepted Lolli’s resignation as acting city manager and fire chief to serve as city manager. No action was requested until the July 19 meeting.

Since the resolution is an emergency, a major majority, or four of the five council members, will have to vote yes. The vote is expected to be unanimous.

His resignation would end his career as fire chief, a position he has held since 2015. Lolli, 60, was expected to retire as fire chief no later than Feb. 28, 2024, he said.

Lolli’s base salary, effected July 20, will be $158,000, or $42,000 more than he earned as fire chief. Since he was named acting city manager, he earned an additional $1,293.75 every two weeks, according to his contract.

In his new role, the city will pay Lolli $5,681 in each of the first two months of this agreement as one-time payments, according to city documents.

During the last four months, Tom Snively has acted as interim fire chief.

Lolli was named acting city manager after the city of Middletown and City Manager Jim Palenick signed an agreement for his removal after less than two years.

At the time, Vice Mayor Monica Nenni said when council considered Palenick’s replacement Lolli was the “obvious choice” because he has been “a staple of Middletown for years and will bring a consistency to the city manager’s office that is needed right now.”

Council member Rodney Muterspaw, Middletown’s former police chief, worked closely with Lolli and he knows what “he can bring to the table” as a leader.

“This is a huge decision for our city...it’s monumental because the city manager sets the tone and the direction for key projects and staff morale for years to come,” Muterspaw posted on his Facebook page. “He has already increased a lot of morale in the building, although we’re not where we need to be yet, but people in the city genuinely appreciate and respect him because he loves Middletown and sincerely has no agenda other than to make our city better, where he has lived his whole life. He’s the real deal.”

Tal Moon, another council member, said he has been “very impressed” with the way Lolli stepped in and managed the city’s most important community projects.

“At his core, Paul is a Middletonian and his driving motivation is a stronger, more connected, more vibrant Middletown,” Moon said.

Palenick was paid $165,000 annually as city manager. The city agreed to pay him a gross sum of $128,764.67 for six months salary, benefits and accrued time off, according to the separation agreement that he and Law Director Ben Yoder signed.

Palenick, who started in July 2020, succeeded former city manager Doug Adkins, who was terminated by Middletown City Council in December 2019.

If Lolli is hired, he will be the third city manager in three years.

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