OUR OPINION: City right to raise salary, but its time to hire

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We applaud the City of Demopolis for extending the salary for the fire chief to $50,000 and above,&8221; which some are saying could mean as high as $60,000.

What we can&8217;t understand is why the mayor and Personnel Board have continued to offer extensions for contracts when at least two qualified, current officers of the department have applied.

Granted, earlier negotiations broke down when the city offered Capt. Tommy Tate, who has served as interim chief, the full-time position. Tate wanted more money than the city &8212; at that time &8212; felt it could pay.

Email newsletter signup

That was the first delay, and it is completely understandable. But that was several months ago. Here we are nearly to the end of June, and we seem no further along than when former Chief George Davenport retired last year.

What amazes us is the most recent extension of the application deadline.

On May 31, we reported that the mayor said the deadline for applications was Friday, June 1. Now the deadline has been extended to Friday.

The mayor said they were looking for &8220;the right applicant.&8221; What exactly does that mean?

In May, Williamson said only three people had applied for the position. Tate, who was on vacation, was not one of the three. Tate said yesterday he returned home early from vacation and applied before the deadline.

We know Tate received a letter from the city saying he would be considered for the position. Also held over from that group of applicants was another ranking officer of the fire department whose name has not been released.

Tate&8217;s credentials have never been in question. With Tate and others it&8217;s always been whether the money was enough. That said, Tate seems willing to compromise. He resubmitted his application knowing the salary requirements. Add to that the fact that the city has raised the salary cap to what could be within $2,000 of Tate&8217;s last counter-offer, and one would think a deal could be put together if he is indeed the most qualified candidate.

Either way, it&8217;s past time for interviews to have begun. The city has gone far too long without a fire chief.