New Lex mayor appeal hearing set for July 11

Kevin Ratliff (center) presides over the July 2 New Lexington council session. The board voted last month to remove Ratliff from office of mayor, an injunction filed recently with Perry County Common Pleas Court reinstated Ratliff as mayor pending a July 11 appeal hearing.

NEW LEXINGTON — While Kevin Ratliff’s termination appeal is moving forward, communication between the mayor and village council has come to a halt.

The New Lexington Mayor is appealing to overturn council’s decision to remove him from office. The board approved a motion by a vote of 5-2 that removed Ratliff from office, council made the move following a June 19 hearing in which Ratliff was accused of missing multiple committee meetings and lack of control over the fire department among other issues.

Ratliff denied each of the five counts brought against him at the hearing and immediately announced his intention to file an injunction against the termination and an appeal of the board’s decision.

The complaint was filed with Perry County Common Pleas Court on June 29, Judge Tina Boyer issued a restraining order the following Monday (July 2) that effectively restored Ratliff as mayor pending the outcome of an appeal hearing.

In appeal documents filed with the court, Ratliff and his attorney Christopher Burch argue that the village failed to provide evidence to substantiate the charges against the mayor.

Council was to hold its regularly scheduled meeting on July 2, a session that ended early as attending council members first questioned the legality of holding a meeting with Ratliff presiding as mayor.

The July 2 council meeting was over after just a few minutes, the only vote taken was to adjourn.

Council President Dan Bethel declined to comment after the meeting, only indicating that the board was acting on the advise of the village’s attorney.

Ratliff also declined comment pending the outcome of the appeal process, only saying, “Work is being stalled because of this.”

Despite the early adjournment, day-to-day work in the village offices appears to be continuing as normal.

In the event that Ratliff’s appeal is unsuccessful then Bethel, as president of council, would become mayor and likely would finish Ratliff’s unexpired term. If the appeal is successful then Ratliff would likely be reinstated officially and, as spelled out in the village charter, could be reimbursed by the village for his legal fees and any salary withheld.

Judge Boyer has scheduled an appeal hearing on the matter for July 11.

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