CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A public hearing scheduled for Thursday will address the performance of Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe.
Clarksburg City Council will hold a special meeting beginning at 6 p.m. on July 11. On the agenda is a public hearing, followed by the consideration of a preliminary resolution to suspend Howe for 30 days in anticipation of terminating him and appointing an interim city manager.
The resolution that council will consider states that Howe would be removed from office effective August 12.
According to the resolution, if council passes it, Howe would be suspended 30 days with pay, and City Clerk Annette Wright would be designated to perform the duties of the city manager during this time.
The resolution also lists three categories of reasons for the possible removal of Howe as city manager: urban decay; misappropriation of funds; and unprofessionalism.
Under the heading of urban decay, the resolution states that during Howe’s 14-year tenure:
- The City has a staggering increase in homelessness
- The Police Department is understaffed
- Crime is on the rise and has risen significantly
- Buildings and houses in Clarksburg are rapidly decaying
- The population of the town has decreased by approximately 10%
- Businesses are leaving the City at an exponential rate, such as United Hospital Center, Steptoe & Johnson, Dominion Gas and Chase Bank
- The City’s budget has declined by $1.6 million since 2011, after adjusting inflation
- City Manager’s budget has increased approximately 100% since 2011
- Budgets for departments such as Engineering and Code Enforcement have declined by approximately 40% since 2011
Under the heading of misappropriation of funds, the resolution states that Howe and/or one or more subordinates have misappropriated city funds, at least some of which personally benefited Howe. The resolution alleges that the misappropriations include, but are not limited to, exchanging vacation time for a monetary payment in excess of city policy and failure to properly verify overtime of employees.
The resolution further claims that Howe has committed one or more violations of state purchase card policies, including, but not limited to, seeking reimbursement for non-itemized receipts. The resolution states that these allegations warrant further investigation.
Finally, under the heading of unprofessionalism, the resolution states that Howe has violated the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by disclosing non-public information not subject to FOIA; failing to disclose information subject to FOIA; and/or failing to apply the fee schedule for documents produced from FOIA requests in a content-neutral and non-discriminatory fashion. The resolution states that these allegations also warrant further investigation.
The resolution also claims that Howe has disrespected members of Clarksburg City Council.
Passage of the resolution requires that four or more members of Clarksburg City Council vote in favor of it.