Augusta Commission expected to vote on fire chief


Augusta's interim fire chief for nearly four months might have the job permanently Monday if he receives six commission votes.


"I'm just waiting to see how it turns out," said Interim Chief Chris James, a 25-year veteran who began his Augusta service with Richmond County Fire Department.

Augusta hasn't had a permanent chief since the abrupt September retirements of Chief Howard Willis, his two deputy chiefs and Willis' brother, a battalion chief.

James said since City Administrator Fred Russell announced last week he'd recommend hiring him, he hasn't spoken with city officials about plans to also potentially bring chief candidate Glenn Jones on board with Richmond County Emergency Management Agency.

Russell said he wanted to be sure the commission approved James as chief before he began discussions with Jones, currently an emergency manager in Arizona.

The commission is expected to vote on the fire chief choice during a called meeting at noon Monday that precedes regular committee meetings.

An item going before Augusta's public services committee Monday will help ease the transition for many firefighters into open firefighting positions, including several battalion chief, captain, lieutenant and sergeant slots.

The administrator is requesting $120,000 be transferred into fire department accounts to hire Selection Works to conduct the promotional process.

"It will allow a lot of firefighters who have worked years to move up the ranks," James said. The city's existing list is several years old, and using an outside firm to conduct the process will ensure fairness, he said.

Another item going before city committees Monday include a presentation from Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan on outsourcing the city's human resources department to Automatic Data Processing. Shanahan has prepared a document comparing the costs of outsourcing the services with the price of doing it in-house.

Also up for committee approval is a revised management agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC for the new downtown TEE Center parking deck and existing Marriott parking.

Russell, whose previous recommendation of a management contract was rejected by the commission, said the new agreement improves on the previous one by granting the city half of profits after expenses from the rent of spaces at the TEE Center deck.

"The other one was a good deal; this is a little bit better," he said.

The contracts were provided to commissioners Thursday but are not a part of the Monday committee packet available online to the public.

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