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Todd Wilkin has served Greenfield well, regardless of any pending actions on April 9

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Rory Ryan

By Rory Ryan
The Highland County Press

In 2018, I wrote a letter of reference for Todd Wilkin to then-Greenfield Village Council members Phil Clyburn, Chris Borreson, Bob Bergstrom, Mark Clyburn and Dr. Eric Borsini.

The letter, in part, reads as follows: 

Please accept this letter of recommendation with all due consideration on behalf of Mr. Todd Wilkin. It is my understanding that Mr. Wilkin may be submitting his resumé and application for the position of Greenfield city manager, as advertised on the village’s website.

Prior to continuing with my recommendation of Mr. Wilkin, I believe it is significant to point out that I have enjoyed a great working relationship with the present city manager, Mr. Ron Coffey, as well as his predecessor, Mrs. Lee (Betty) Bishop, both of whom, in my opinion, have served Greenfield with honor and distinction.

If given the opportunity, I believe Mr. Wilkin can continue to serve the village with honor and distinction.

Being that the city manager serves as the chief executive officer of Greenfield at the pleasure of the Village Council, it is my experienced opinion that Mr. Wilkin possesses the knowledge and skills required to work within the public sector, while also being cognizant of political boundaries within which the city manager must work and their effects upon the private sector and taxpaying citizens.

Having worked with Mr. Wilkin from 2013-16, I have found him to be thoughtful and considerate of not only the respective departments of city government, but also the residents, taxpayers and job creators, including those “Mom-and-Pop” businesses that are crucial to the longterm vitality of small towns everywhere.

Mr. Wilkin’s private-sector background in development and infrastructure will no doubt prove beneficial to Greenfield. However, his ability to treat others with respect and courtesy, much as Mr. Coffey and Mrs. Bishop have always done, will ultimately mean much more to not only the members of Village Council, but more importantly – and with all due respect – to the citizens of Greenfield.

On April 5, 2024, The Highland County Press and other local media received a news release signed by just two Greenfield council members, Cory Taylor and Carlos Ooten. These two members of council announced a special meeting of council for 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 in council chambers on the third floor of Greenfield City Hall.

In a rather rare and unusual move, Taylor and Ooten disclosed that the meeting was to discuss "the status of the employment of City Manager Todd Wilkin." Three other council members did not sign the news release.

In my more than three decades in this business, I can say without a doubt that such special meeting announcements rarely name any individual employee. The standard release, for legal and practical purposes, simply discloses that the special meeting is to discuss a personnel matter, without naming anyone. In fact, one Greenfield attorney emailed me as much after reading the notice of the special meeting.

Prior to any action taken by Greenfield Village Council on April 9, I suggest council members consider a few things.

Since Wilkin was hired six years ago, the village:

• Wrote and awarded a $3,881,035.00 CRISI Grant for the railroad that supports 1,200-1,800 jobs for Highland County – $125,000 is what the village is paying for this work. That is 3 percent of the total project with no loans, all grant dollars secured through federal, state and local partners.

• The village worked with the council to provide raises every year and increase starting salaries for all employees while working to ensure insurance monthly premiums were not increased in six years. This is a savings to the employees for six years.

• The village received more than $14 million in funding through grants and a few low-interest loans to rebuild failing infrastructure throughout the town. Of the $14 million, the village received $10,930,848.50 in grants it does not pay back, which is 76 percent of the total dollars coming into the village.

• The village started Industrial Round Table meetings in Greenfield with Adient, Corvac, Candle-lite, Greenfield Precision Plastics, Greenfield Products, Greenfield Research, Huhtamaki, Weastec, Wooden It Be Nice and other partners during Wilkin's tenure. These meetings evolved into the Highland County Think Tank, which Wilkin assembled with all the Highland County schools, Economic Development Office, Chamber of Commerce, Southern State Community College, Lt. Governor Jon Husted’s office, Southern Ohio ESC and other key partners, and the Highland County Think Tank then evolved into the Workforce Leadership Council, which created ACCESS. 

• When Wilkin started in April 2018, the General Fund was projected to be a $0.00 carry-over into 2019. After recommendations to the 2018 budget, the village finished the year with a carry-over of $199,000. After six years with Wilkin in office, the village started this year with an $877,000 carry-over.  

• The village assisted Adient in expanding its tank storage facility, which represented a $6 million investment in the facility and secured jobs in Greenfield.  

A few other accomplishments and improvements in Greenfield during Wilkin's six years as city manager include (but certainly not limited to):

• In 2018, the village: adopted its Economic Development Plan; the South Central Ohio Industrial Park was site authenticated by the state of Ohio; started working with RITA (Regional Income Tax Agency), grants awarded totaled $1.4 million; started enforcement of blighted properties; started the Industrial Round Table Meetings with all local industry.

• In 2019, the village received grants of almost $4 million. The village remodeled City Hall offices to combine the water and administration offices and was awarded almost $3.9 million in railroad grants and retained 1,800 jobs associated with the rail line.

• In 2020, $100,000 for a bike trail to connect Mitchell Park and Felson Park was announced, as was pavilion money for Felson Park. The village increased the General Fund carryover from $289,000 to $442,000 during the pandemic when other communities saw a loss. The village was nominated for its work on the railroad project as one of the top three in the Ohio SE region and awarded a COPS grant to hire new officers. The village also began Citizen of the Month and Employee of the Month awards.

• In 2021, the village started its Façade Improvement Program with $852,000 of investment. Weastec reopened in Greenfield. Greenfield Precision Plastics opened. The general fund carryover grew from $442,000 to $676,000. The village purchased three new cruisers for the Police Department, as well as body armor and new firearms for officers.

• In 2022, the Pipes of Christmas returned; the village started First Friday events, Movie Nights, Cookie Walk and Hocus Pocus. There were 14 ribbon cuttings for new businesses in the downtown area. The general fund grew from $676,000 to $790,000. More blighted homes and buildings were disposed of throughout town and new Johnny Paycheck signs were installed.

• In 2023, the general fund increased from $790,000 to $877,000. Fiber was installed throughout town. Water bills moved from postcard billing to mailed letters. The former Elliott Hotel was demolished.

There are many more accomplishments and village improvements during Wilkin's six years as Greenfield city manager. He has followed in the amicable, cooperative and transparent examples set by his predecessors Ron Coffey and Betty Bishop after Greenfield adopted a city manager form of government on Sept. 18, 2008. As many may recall, the aftermath of that decision had its ups and downs in the first few years, including litigation that reached the Ohio Supreme Court. Surely, no one wants to revisit that sordid episode in local government.

After six years of honorable service to the village of Greenfield, Wilkin's fate ought not to come down to petty politics or ulterior agendas. By all accounts, Wilkin has served Greenfield well, regardless of any pending actions by council on April 9.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.


Kevin K Curren (not verified)

8 May 2024

Great article. I was not living in town at the time of the shake up and am very interested in learning more about what transpired and why. Greenfield is about to make a decision that will take the village back in time and as you put it, "ups and downs for several years" following the change. I would like to be involved in preventing that. I served on Greenfield city council as councilman and as president of council in the mid 80's. I know what that form of government is capable of, and incapable of. If you can provide me with a location that I can access information for that period of time, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks. And by the way I ran against Dave Daniels in 1988 and was defeated. I did give it a try though.

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