Suspended Buchanan City Manager calls allegations 'unfounded'

NOW: Suspended Buchanan City Manager calls allegations ’unfounded’

BUCHANAN, Mich. -- The fate of the Buchanan City Manager, who was suspended earlier this month with no public explanation, should be decided Wednesday.

Buchanan Mayor Sean Denison called for a special meeting of the City Commissioners for Wednesday evening to discuss how they will move forward, after announcing on Monday that the suspended City Manager has 42 allegations against him made by City employees.

“This is all about money and people’s paychecks,” says Dan Vigansky, a Buchanan City Commissioner.

Vigansky believes the City Manager is being targeted, essentially, for doing his job.

Mayor Denison says the City Manager, Ben Eldridge, was put on paid suspension this month while the city investigated 42 allegations against him by city employees, five of them allegedly involving misconduct towards women.

However, Denison has not detailed what those allegations are.

Vigansky claims Eldridge was cracking down on timecards and overtime with city staff in an effort to save money, and he believes that may have caused a number of complaints.

“It’s all hearsay, that’s all it is, is hearsay,” says Vigansky.

Eldridge himself speaking out for the first time, telling ABC57 in a statement:

“As a dedicated and professional employee, I am deeply concerned that these unfounded allegations became public and their potential impact on my family, reputation, and my career. I have cooperated fully with the investigation and provided any additional information or documents that were required.”

Questions about the state of Buchanan's financial situation flared up when it was announced in September that the beloved ‘Thrill on the Hill’ event would be postponed in 2024.

The city said the tough decision was in its best financial interest, with a need to focus funds on a downtown infrastructure project.

According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, Buchanan's 2022 budget faced a $1.3 million deficit.

Commissioner Vigansky worries removing the City Manager will cause more damage.

“The City of Buchanan’s going to lose a fantastic City Manager, and it just breaks my heart for the city of Buchanan,” Vigansky says.

Eldridge tells ABC57 he plans to attend Wednesday’s meeting and that he will be bringing receipts.

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