WILMINGTON – The Ohio Auditor’s Office is alleging that the mayor of Wilmington misspent/misappropriated more than $24,000 in unapproved severance payments to former city officials.
On Thursday, the Auditor’s Office issued the findings for recovery in a news release. The two findings against John Stanforth, the city’s outgoing mayor, were identified as part of an audit of the city’s finances for 2022, the release states.
According to the release, as part of former Wilmington City Administrator Marian Miller’s severance in June 2022, she was paid $8,747, which was “more than allowed under city policy for unused sick and vacation time for continuation of health coverage fees.”
The second finding was regarding former Wilmington City Administrator and Human Resources Director Greg Muenchen, who was allegedly paid $15,748, which was “more than allowed when he left his position in August 2022.”
“In both cases, Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth OK’d the severance agreements, without the approval of city council. The findings for recovery were issued against Miller and Muenchen, with Stanforth jointly and severally liable,” the release states.
Miller resigned from her position officially in May 2022, according to a statement from Stanforth at the time. Stanforth’s statement at the time indicated he first refused the resignation, but then accepted “her decision to prioritize her health and her family.”
Muenchen resigned from the city in August 2023. In a provided copy of his letter, Muenchen stated, “I feel I have been held back and prevented from achieving my full potential, and my hard work and vision for the city have been disregarded without consideration or conversation.”
He also stated he thought situations were handled “inappropriately and unprofessionally,” which made him “uncomfortable.”
When asked for comment on Thursday, Wilmington City Council President Matt Purkey told the News Journal that “appropriate city officials have reached out to the state auditor’s office for guidance and next steps.”
He added that once more is learned, council will move forward from there.
City Auditor Mary Kay Vance told the News Journal she had no formal statement at this time.
When asked for comment, City Human Resources Director Brad Reynolds advised he had no comment at this time. A request for comment from Stanforth was not immediately returned.
Stanforth’s bid to be reelected as mayor was thwarted in the May Republican primary election. He was defeated by Pat Haley, who is the Republican candidate for mayor in the November general election. Haley is set to face independent candidate Jason Stoops.
Stanforth was first elected mayor in 2015 and won reelection in 2019.
The full Ohio Auditor report is available online at ohioauditor.gov/auditsearch/search.aspx.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574