NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) — Newton Falls Village Council met Monday in executive session to discuss budget concerns in the police department.
Residents and reporters were all under the impression they might learn whether Newton Falls council would fire police chief Gene Fixler, after reports surfaced over the weekend that they no longer supported the chief. But no action was taken at Monday’s meeting.
Fixler told us Sunday that he was called into City Manager Jack Haney’s office last Thursday. Fixler sad Haney and the law director delivered an ultimatum.
“They would like me to resign and if I don’t want to resign, then Council would have to take the steps they have to to remove me,” Fixler said.
Village Council took no such action Monday night, after an executive session where budget concerns in the police department were discussed.
“It looks like right now, the police department budget is about $140,000 short before the end of the year,” said Newton Falls Mayor Lyle Waddell.
City Manager Jack Haney said Fixler already has burned through 74 percent of his personnel payroll for the entire year. He said he sent at least three memos to the chief this year about the department’s budget and financial outlook.
But Haney would not answer the direct question about last week’s meeting and whether he told Fixler to resign. He said on Monday that council plans to work with Fixler.
Waddell now said city officials want to work with the chief on ways to stretch the budget through the end of the year. He denied that Fixler’s job is in jeopardy.
“You didn’t hear that from me, so I don’t know where that came from, but it certainly was not from me and I did not hear it on the floor of council,” Waddell said.
Fixler was not at Monday’s council meeting, but on Sunday, he said he has no intentions of stepping down.
Fixler said his department’s entire budget was cut by almost $250,000 this year from what it was last year. In January, they reduced two full-time officers to part-time, leaving only three full-time officers and the chief.
He admits his personnel payroll budget is running over, but said he has an obligation to protect the community and his officers.