Possible pay raise for chiefs

LynAnne Vucovich • Oct 17, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Norwalk city council meeting had an open discussion Tuesday concerning the pay for police and fire chief.

Council has created two options to amend the current pay ordinance.

The pending legislation would implement the option of a pay raise for the positions of police and fire chief to create a more competitive compensation. One ordinance does the same thing for the assistant fire chief, said Stuart O’Hara, law director, but it doesn’t address the issue of the two chiefs.

Ellen Heinz, the safety-service director, said the increase to the budget would be a “fair and appropriate adjustment” to the pay compared to other cities.

Councilman Steve Schumm supports the possible ordinance being put in place.

“It’s a high-pressure job,” he said. “They’re doing a good job.”

Mayor Rob Duncan said the current pay between fire captain and chief is so similar it could become “difficult” getting the right person in the position, considering all of the added responsibilities.

Matt Doughty, a council member, wondered what problems it could create by holding off on the decision.

O’Hara said neither ordinances grant anyone a raise.

“It still needs funded,” he said.

The position of captain can be paid overtime while chiefs don’t receive it, as that is a salaried position.

“(The legislation) also creates a new pay ordinance for the new position of assistant fire chief,” O’Hara said. “When you compare us to other jurisdictions and you look at the differential to what the chief gets now and the highest-ranking captain gets, it’s not that great for all the added responsibility.”

O’Hara reiterated the mayor’s opinion saying, “It gets harder and harder to get people to take that position.”

Other members of the council were concerned with passing the ordinance as the city budget for next year hasn’t been finalized yet.

Jordy Horowitz said he wasn’t comfortable passing the pending legislation until seeing the budget for next year. Councilwoman Samantha Wilhelm said she needs to see how the city can afford these raises before she could fully support it.

The next meeting for council, which plans to revisit the issue, will be Oct. 29.