Public safety director position created again

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The city has one person running both the police and fire departments, with Police Chief Scott Wilcox tapped for the position.

At its meeting in June, the city council held its first reading of an ordinance change to create the position of public safety director; a second reading will be held next week, at which time the change will be finalized.

That change comes following the June 30 retirement of former fire chief Steve O’Malley, reverting the city back to a public safety administrative setup that was dismantled six years ago. Up until 2004, the city had both police and fire chiefs, but with the departments heavy on administration, it was decided to go to a single public safety director for the two departments; the two chief setup was reinstituted in 2011. In both cases, the argument was that the changes would save taxpayers money in the long run, and the same reasoning arose again during this year’s budget discussions.

The total savings in the next fiscal year, however, will be only a part of what O’Malley received in salary and benefits. City Manager Bill Mayo said firefighters received a pay raise this year, which will offset some of the savings in the budget for that department from O’Malley’s retirement. The total saved will be roughly $30,000 to $40,000, Mayo estimated.