With termination completed, Middletown starts new city manager search

Now that Middletown’s city manager has been formally terminated, officials are moving forward in finding a replacement.

City spokeswoman Shelby Quinlivan said a request for proposals to seek a firm to search for a new city manager is being finalized and could go out by the end of this week. City officials have said that the selection process could take six to nine months.

Until a new city manager is selected, Susan Cohen will continue to serve as the acting city manager. Cohen, who is also the city’s administrative services director, was tapped by council to serve in that position on Nov. 5 when former city manager Doug Adkins was suspended with pay pending the termination proceedings.

Once a new city manager has been selected and hired, Cohen, 39, will revert back to her post as administrative services director. Her annual salary is $91,608 and she is receiving an additional bi-weekly salary $1,607 for her additional duties as acting city manager.

“The instructions that I have been given by council is that it’s ‘business as usual and we’re moving forward. Middletown is open for business,” Cohen said in November.

At Tuesday’s Middletown City Council meeting, Adkins made parting comments during the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting.

Adkins said it was “a very sad day” for him as council was slated to vote on the final resolution to fire him.

“I have worked longer for the city of Middletown than I have worked for any other employer in my career,” he said. “I’m sad to see that employment end and I’m sad to see it end in this way.

“We’ve accomplished so much together. I’m sad that I won’t be around to finish the work to bring the city back to the prosperity that we started five years ago. I’m not here to complain tonight. I’m here to say thank you.”

He thanked the city for employing him for 14 years, first as an assistant prosecutor, then city prosecutor, community redevelopment director, before being hired as city manager in June 2014.

“Thank you for allowing me to successfully complete my original five-year plan to bring the city back from recession to sustainable revenues,” he said.

When Adkins was being interviewed for the city manager position, he gave council members a five-year plan of what needed to be done and followed it. While some praised his initiatives and actions, others opposed the efforts, but his plan moved the city forward in several areas.

Adkins thanked the city’s civic, educational and non-profit partners for working with him and city staff. He recognized Rick Pearce, executive director of The Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, and Middletown School Superintendent Marlon Styles for meeting for breakfast each month to discuss ways to collaborate and “make business, education and municipal government work collectively and improve the city.”

He also thanked the business community for believing in Middletown and for new investments approaching $1 billion over the past several years. Adkins noted this investment in business and workforce has resulted in record income tax revenues that will allow Middletown to catch up on deferred maintenance, street paving and quality of life issues that were set aside during the lean years during the recession.

Adkins praised the work of city staff and employees, noting there are fewer city employees than in other cities such as Hamilton, Kettering and Springfield.

“Our employees have busted their butts for me for five years,” Adkins said.

He said if he had any success as city manager, “it is most certainly due to the employees that served under me. They are exemplary in every way.”

Adkins said he hopes he is leaving the city in better shape than when he took over in 2014.

“I hope that the new council and city manager can build on our past successes,” I wish for nothing but success and prosperity for the city moving forward.”

Council did not comment after Adkins finished speaking. He left the meeting and declined to comment further to the Journal-News.

MORE: Middletown city manager suspended for outburst in local business

Later in the meeting, council voted unanimously for an emergency final resolution to terminate his employment as city manager without any comment.

Adkins, 56, is the first city manager since 1956 to be officially terminated by council. In the past, city managers often resigned with a settlement agreement before being fired. Adkins also did not invoke his right to seek a public hearing within 30 days of his suspension with pay. His contract was set to expire July 2020, and his annual salary is $165,000.

In the Nov. 5 preliminary resolution, council said it was commencing the process as it “no longer desires to employ Douglas Adkins as City Manager because of irreconcilable differences between Council and Mr. Adkins concerning leadership style, and these differences make his continued work as City Manager untenable.” He was suspended with pay through Feb. 5.

Middletown City Managers

1956 to 2019

Charlie Thompson, March 1956-March 1964

Dan Kothe, June 1964-September 1970

Dale Helsel, October 1970-May 1985

William Burns, October 1985-January 1988

William Klosterman, July 1988-August 1992

Ron Olsen, November 1992-November 2004

William Becker, March 2005-March 2007

Judith Gilleland, January 2008-July 2014

* Doug Adkins July 2014-Dec. 17, 2019. He will receive his salary until Feb. 5 per city charter.

SOURCE: City of Middletown

* First city manager to be terminated per city charter.

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