The city is hoping to appoint a new fire chief in the coming weeks after entering into negotiations with a high-ranking member of the Fire Department, Mayor Dayton King said.
King confirmed that the city has narrowed the search to David Rackmyre and Tom Groff, both battalion chiefs, but would not say which one they have decided to further negotiate with.
The city’s Personnel Committee is currently working out the contract details for the next chief.
King is not sure that either Rackmyre or Groff will take the job, because the city may not be able to provide wages and benefits that meet their standards.
“Rackmyre made a lot of money last year,” King said. “I don’t know if we will be able to match what he made.”
By accepting the lofty position in the department, the new chief will forfeit his membership in the union, which could lead to increased health insurance costs.
King said the difference could be as much as $6,000 per year.
He estimated the previous fire chief, Beth Whitman-Putnam, made $85,000 in her final year.
Second Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds said the committee is working to iron out the contract details.
“The new chief must understand that we don’t have the resources of other cities,” he said.
If the battalion chief rejects the offer, he said, they will reopen their search.
“There are two other people in the department who passed the test to become chief, so they would be looked at first,” Simonds said.
Since Whitman-Putnam retired in early June, King has taken on the role of designating assignments for the battalion chiefs.
“I am able to stay on top of pretty much everything,” he said. “But unfortunately some stuff falls through the cracks.”
King said he is looking to appoint a chief as soon as possible so that the “city can keep moving forward.”