Augusta fire chief decision may come sooner than next commission meeting

Russell asks for vote at meeting next Monday

Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 7:40 PM
Last updated 10:29 PM
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A decision on who will be Augusta's next fire chief might come before Feb. 7, the date of the Augusta Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting.

City Administrator Fred Russell said he will recommend that the commission instead vote on his recommendation of Interim Chief Chris James at a special meeting Monday.

Russell said making the decision sooner than the commission’s next regular meeting will allow James to be “part of the conversation” about hiring another chief candidate, Glenn Jones, for a position in the Richmond County Emergency Management Agency.

“I don’t want to build this house around somebody that doesn't have enough commission votes,” Russell said.

James, a veteran firefighter who began with the Richmond County Fire Department, has been involved in departmental reorganization since he was named interim chief in October.

Commissioner Bill Lockett suggested last week hiring James before Feb. 7, and no commissioner has spoken against Russell's recommendation.

“It seems like everybody is looking at taking Fred's recommendation on that,” Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said.

Still, it wouldn't be the first time if the commission approved someone other than Russell's recommendation for the top fire post.

In 2005, the body voted to approve then-Commissioner Andy Cheek’s recommendation of Howard Willis, who was not Russell’s recommendation, for fire chief.

Willis served both as chief and EMA director until his abrupt retirement announcement, along with that of his two deputy chiefs and a battalion chief, in September.

Since then, Battalion Chief Wayne Taylor has served on an interim basis as EMA director, a position required by state law that reports to the mayor.

The EMA office, which currently has two employees, stands to expand under a strategic plan for the department recommended by James.

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Asitisinaug 01/23/12 - 11:07 pm
So, instead of $120,000.00 in

So, instead of $120,000.00 in salary excluding benefits, tax costs and insurance we will now be paying $240,000 plus benefits, tax costs, insurance as well as an additional vehicle, fuel costs, cell phone, etc.

I actually do believe the position is needed but is amazes me how things happen in this city. We want to hire our "local guy" due to political reasons so we will just hire another person as well in order to make it happen. All in all, we will now be spending around $200,000.00 per year to add ONE person to the Fire Department/EMA payroll.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/24/12 - 08:56 am
On the right hand, city

On the right hand, city commissioners tell voters that they want to consolidate positions, downsize, make government leaner and less costly. Then on the left hand, they create a new department headed by the mayor for economic development (instead of using vacant space in the Marble Palace, they are planning on renting space in the Chamber of Commerce building); and now we see in the last paragraph above they plan to expand the EMA.

And remember last week they voted to hold off on firing the 34 people they told Fred to fire in December.

This city is in trouble, and us with it.

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