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Stratford city council has ordered staff to look into the possibility of combining the positions of police and fire chief.
At Monday’s council meeting, the corporate leadership team’s restructuring proposal, which seeks to “(take) anticipated savings from senior positions and re-invest them in front line management,” was discussed. In addition to the amalgamation and creation of several new management positions, the topic of whether to begin the hunt for a new fire chief came up, now that Chief Richard Young has announced his retirement.
The possibility of combining the two positions to take advantage of the upcoming vacancy was initially brought up at the subcommittee level.
Coun. George Brown expressed interest in exploring the option further.
“Municipalities in the (United) States are doing it,” he said. “It’s not impossible. They’re both administration jobs.”
He later added the position could be simply called the “services board,” but added, “if there’s no savings, we won’t do it.”
He asked staff to look into any possible savings that may stem from the amalgamation. CAO Ron Shaw said he was “happy to do so.”
Coun. Kerry McManus said she has concerns about the corporate restructuring.
“We’re sending a message to staff that everyone has the capacity for extra oversight,” she said.
Coun. Keith Culliton noted the first person whose advice should be sought is Richard Young himself.
“It’s been this way for a long time,” he said. “We have to be careful not to make a mistake.”
Mayor Dan Mathieson said he could see no reason why staff couldn’t compile a report.
“Let’s have the discussion. It’s a healthy debate,” he said, adding that, once a decision is made, “at least people will know we did our due diligence.”