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Arguments continue in Falls firing

Law director says council skirted law; Lynch shows up for work

NEWTON FALLS — Fired on Monday and back to work Tuesday?

Law Director A. Joseph Fritz says village manager David Lynch was unlawfully fired when village council members voted Monday 3-1 to terminate his contract, even though the mayor and other officials say the correct steps were taken to oust Lynch.

And so, Lynch showed up for work on Tuesday and police didn’t remove him.

Mayor Ken Kline said Lynch came to the village municipal building very early Tuesday and got in, and was not removed by police who are under the orders of police Chief Gene Fixler — who is following the opinion of Fritz.

Fritz said he was never notified of the termination paperwork and the terms of separation.

“I caution that your action without legal counsel is ill advised and has created significant liability issues for the (village),” Fritz said.

Council members John Baryak, Tesa Spletzer and Brian Kropp voted to terminate Lynch’s contract effective immediately. Councilman Adam Zimmerman voted “no” and Councilwoman Sandra Breymaier was absent due to illness.

Kline said three “yes” votes out of four council members present was a sufficient simple majority for passage. He said Fritz’s comments are “a roadblock” to stop council’s actions.

Fritz, in a letter sent to council and other officials after Monday’s meeting, said because the village manager’s contract was adopted by council, its revocation requires a two-thirds “supermajority” vote. Four affirmative votes are needed to pass the termination because a two-thirds vote amounts to 3.33 votes, he argues.

Fritz states council did not give prior notice of the termination on the meeting agenda, but added the matter to the agenda by simple majority vote.

He said council meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the village charter, the applicable laws of Ohio and, unless otherwise specified, rules and procedures outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order.

Fritz said sometimes a two-thirds majority is needed per Robert’s rules, with motions that require a two-thirds vote including “amend or rescind something previously adopted, if notice has not been given.”

“Despite the proclamation of passage, the city manager is not properly terminated,” Fritz said.

OTHER OPINIONS

Kline said comments by Fritz “are not accurate” and additional reviews by other attorneys on council’s vote will be sought.

“He has given a false opinion. The city manager was legally fired. He (Fritz) is wrong and just putting up a roadblock on this. We will get other legal opinions,” Kline said.

At the meeting, Kline said according to administrative code, only a simple majority vote of council was needed — with three of the four councilmembers passing the motion.

“This needed a simple majority of council, which it received. The contract is null and void. His position is terminated,” he said,

Kline had named William George, electric superintendent, as interim village manager at Monday’s meeting, but he said police were not allowing him in the building.

CONTRACT

Lynch’s four-year contract, in which his salary set in November 2020 by council is $89,258, indicates that a majority of council is needed to terminate his contract.

The contract indicates Lynch, if terminated, will receive a severance equal to the amount he would receive if he continued working through the life of the contract, “equal to the amount owed for the total remaining months left in (the) contract,” unless he had been convicted of a felony.

The severance shall be paid in a lump sum and he also is to receive compensation for accrued paid time off and health and life insurance for six months, according to the contract.

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