The Middletown Way

I’ve talked in public several times about using social media and other communication methods to get the message out in the community and to the region that Middletown is working hard and coming back in a very positive way.

Like everyone during the recession, City hall had to cut back significantly on staffing levels over the past few years.  In 2015, we have just over half the number of employees that we had just 15 years ago, while still attempting to provide the same level of services for our citizens and businesses.

As I took over as City Manager, I wanted City staff to understand what it means to be a city employee and to make my expectations clear on how we will conduct our business on a daily basis.  The result was the creation of The Middletown Way.  It is a philosophy and way of doing business for  your City government.   I’ve copied that philosophy below for everyone to see.

Unfortunately, we do not yet meet this standard.  I still get complaints on how we treat residents trying to complete their business with the City.   I talk about my expectations at every employee meeting, however, and I promise that I will continue to push and teach this philosophy until all of our employees embrace it as a daily objective and the public can see our commitment to their well being and improvement in the City.

If you experience good or bad customer service when dealing with the City, do not hesitate to pass along the compliment or the complaint to let us know how we are doing.  Your opinion matters.  You can always email me at douga@cityofmiddletown.org.

Have a great week!

Doug

The Middletown Way means that as employees we UNDERSTAND:

  • That we create the environment in which the citizens of Middletown live
  • That we are responsible for delivering the public services that our residents seek and City Council deems appropriate
  • That we implement policy as developed by City Council, and guide the quality of the community
  • That we are essential in creating a livable and vibrant urban environment that makes Middletown an attractive place to live, work and play
  • That the image of Middletown as a community is dramatically impacted by our work product and our attitude about the City
  • That positive energy is contagious
  • That we are only as strong as our weakest link
  • That we must all work together as a team to accomplish our goals

The Middletown Way means that as employees we ARE COMMITTED:

  • To providing quality public services in a positive and efficient manner
  • To treating the public and our co-workers in the manner in which we would like to be treated
  • To making Middletown a great place to live, an exciting place to do business and a pleasant, friendly place to visit
  • To representing Middletown in a positive way and projecting the community in a good light
  • To serving the public with dedication, integrity and responsibility in undertaking our roles as the caretakers of all things public in Middletown                                                             

The Middletown Way means that as employees we PROMISE:

  • Our best effort every day to deliver quality public service to the citizens of Middletown
  • Our belief in and commitment to the values of the City
  • Our dedication to making Middletown a special place to live, work and play
  • Our resolve to present Middletown as a community with a “bright past” and a “brighter future”
  • Our unending realization that the work we do is very important and that our commitment is one of dedication and honor
  • Our determination that our work experience is not “just a job”, but “The Journey of a Lifetime”

4 thoughts on “The Middletown Way

  1. The real Middletown way. Please explain why we are allowing Lebanon to dump their section 8 vouchers on us. I thought we were over saturated with them? No? Please, please tell me it is still not business as usual.

    DDN:
    11 buildings to be demolished in downtown Lebanon
    $6 million bank project displaces tenants.

    By Lawrence Budd – Staff Writer LEBANON —
    Eleven buildings in downtown Lebanon are to be razed to clear space for LCNB Corp.’s new administrative center.

    Tonight the Lebanon Planning Commission is expected to issue a certificate permitting the demolitions, opening up room for the $6 million project that would result in construction of a three-story, 45,000 square foot building and parking a block north of the bank’s existing headquarters.

    The demolitions are expected to uproot about a half-dozen families, as well as other residents.

    “Most of them, we’ve found place for them to live,” Councilman Stephen Kaiser said Monday.
    In July, Bunnell Hill Development acquired the buildings on nine properties around the northwest corner of Silver Street and Broadway. Demolition is planned in September and October, using state funds set aside for redevelopment of cities left with horse racing tracks due to the legalization of racinos in Ohio.

    The city donated the former Eleanor Ullum Community Center. The developer has acquired the other eight properties, including six residential buildings, an abandoned gas station and hotel for about $1.4 million, according to property records.

    The state funds will help the bank offset the costs of removing asbestos and cleaning up ground contamination from the gas station and a former laundry, according to Steve Wilson, chairman and CEO of LCNB Corp.

    “The whole idea, from the beginning, was to take those structures, to remove them, then to turn what is a brownfield into a greenfield,” he said.

    The development is seen as an anchor on the north end of the downtown, which local leaders plan to extend north to the Warren County Fairgrounds. The county plans to use its $1.5 million share of racetrack development funds and another $3 million from the racino operators to redevelop the fairgrounds.

    On Monday, demolition began on the former city garage, about two blocks north of the bank project on Broadway. The city is also using racetrack development money to clear this site for redevelopment.

    Last month, Kaiser inquired about progress in relocating the residents displaced by the demolitions during a council meeting. Local charities and churches provide for the homeless in Lebanon.

    “Let’s deal with them on a case-by-case basis,” Doug Sibcy, a local pastor, said.

    On Monday, Kaiser said MOST OF THE RESIDENTS HAD BEEN RELOCATED TO LOW-INCOME HOUSING IN MIDDLETOWN. The project will also claim one of the oldest elm trees still standing in Ohio, Kaiser said.

    Three of the rental properties were multi-family, three single family. Low-income residents used social services provided from the community center, which had fallen into disrepair.

    The demolitions are to be completed in September and October.

    The buildings, built between 1930 and 1966, have “no unique architectural style,” according to a staff report on the project that recommended issuing the certificate of appropriateness for the demolitions.

    LCNB hopes to move into the new building by the end of October 2016.

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    • Lots to talk about here. First is a discussion of federal Fair Housing law. Under the Section 8 program, a participant is given a voucher that reimburses the landlord for most or all of the rent of the voucher holder each month. That voucher is good pretty much anywhere in the United States that a landlord is willing to accept the voucher for payment. The voucher holder and the landlord make that decision and any direct interference by a City of other entity to disrupt that process is a violation of Fair Housing law subject to injunctions and fines and all kinds of nasty consequences. We do not have the ability to say “you can’t come here.” It is a direct violation of federal fair housing law.

      That being said, when we had our own housing agency, we had, at the highest peak, just over 1,700 Section 8 vouchers in the City. We worked out an agreement with HUD to close MPHA and send our vouchers to Warren Metropolitan Housing Authority and Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority. There’s 40 years of HUD data showing that, in general, voucher holders stay fairly close to where the voucher is issued. Our belief was that by sending the Section program to Warren and Butler County, the voucher use would spread out over time so that we would have a proportional share living in Middletown and not 5 times the state average as we had when we operated MPHA. As Middletown vouchers are turned in due to moving, getting kicked off the program, finding a job and no longer needing the voucher, death, etc., the vouchers are reissued at the County level. The effect over time is that vouchers should disperse out of Middletown and be spread out throughout Butler and Warren counties.

      The City has a poverty level of somewhere around 22%. We need some subsidized housing and if we were proportional to the average community in the State of Ohio, we would have just under 800 vouchers along with the BMHA public housing units to house our disadvantaged population. When I checked last month, we were down from the high of 1,700 to under 1,000 vouchers being used in the City of Middletown. The numbers are slowly dispersing as expected and I would guess in another year or two, we will be down to an average proportion of subsidized housing units.

      The article you referenced stated that there were about 6 families and a few individual residents displaced by Lebanon’s activities. “Most” but obviously not all had chosen to move to Middletown. That is their right under fair housing law. There will always be some people who choose Middletown for their subsidized housing needs. The goal is to be proportional and not to concentrate that poverty solely in Middletown. We are accomplishing that goal.

      Additionally, we have consistently seen that a small number of properties cause a disproportional amount of crime and nuisance activity. We now have the Chronic Nuisance Ordinance on the books to deal with habitual problem properties, whether they are subsidized or not. The ordinance focuses on poor behavior and runs the property owner up a bill if we have to continually deal with nuisance and/or criminal activity at the property address. If any of the displaced people from the article cause problems in Middletown on a habitual basis, the Chronic Nuisance ordinance will immediately put pressure on the property owner to take action to remove them from the property. If they behave, then it’s very likely that neither you nor I will ever know that they are here or where they have moved to in Middletown.

      It is NOT business as usual. It is a new way of operating while staying within Federal law.

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  2. Mr. Adkins,

    Thank you for your timely response. I appreciate the work you are doing having inherited such a difficult situation. I applaude you for your recognition of this unfair burden Middletown shoulders in this matter. 1,700-1,000 vouchers is a great start. I apologize if my questioning seemed hostile. I agree with you whole heartedly. 1,700-1,000 vouchers is a great start. However you state “The effect over time is that vouchers should disperse out of Middletown and be spread out throughout Butler and Warren counties.” Should, is the operative word. Do you believe the cities of Warren and Butler counties will happily accept the influx of section 8 housing? What if they refuse? Also, what are the consequences of the city telling the federal government “no”? Thank you for your response. This forum is a great way to involve the citizenry and your openness is appreciated.

    Tommy

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    • This goes back to the Fair Housing law discussion. The voucher holder can choose where to live. It is not up to any city to accept or refuse. The consequences of interfering with the process includes having a federal judge issue orders reversing the city’s actions and could include millions of dollars in fines and penalties. We should continue to see further spreading out of the vouchers over time. The reason I feel strongly about this is that we have already seen significant reductions and the ENTIRE rest of the state already seen this. They don’t have our concentrations. When we had MPHA and just under 1,700 vouchers assigned just to Middletown, the waiting list to get a voucher was made up of Middletown residents. We effectively “locked in” that amount of poor families by always having those vouchers in place just in Middletown. We were the ONLY city-operated housing agency in Ohio with the exception of Parma, Ohio, which was created by a federal judge because the city violated fair housing laws (one of those potential consequences to saying ‘no’!).

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