The city of Hinesville will start the search for a new Police chief. The decision to open the vacancy for applicants came during a special called meeting held Thursday before the city Council’s regular meeting.
During the meeting, Mayor Allen Brown and council decided to keep the current organizational structure and not move forward with the creation of a public safety director.
Talks about creating the position was originally brought up during the 2017 city planning workshop, however a transition plan was not developed until the topic resurfaced during the Feb. 15 council meeting.
The plan was to be considered upon the vacancy of the existing police or fire chief, due to retirement. The city was to review the plan and determine whether to move forward with the new position or keep the existing structure and replace an outgoing chief.
Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier announced his retirement, effective March 1.
Since the transition plan was not completed, Howard recommended and the council approved the appointment of Bill Kirkendall as interim chief.
At the Feb. 15 meeting the council moved to have a workshop to discuss the public safety director transition plan. That workshop was March 6.
At Thursday’s special meeting, Howard reviewed aspects of the plan, based on recommendations from the workshop. However council members Jason Floyd, Diana Reid and Kenneth Shaw each said that the current structure was serving the city’s needs and seemed to be what was best for the city.
Councilman Keith Jenkins said he knows of several small cities that have public safety directors overseeing the fire and police department. He added he also wants what is best for the city but also best for the budget.
Reid said when it comes to the lives of police officers, emergency personnel and firefighters, money should not be the bottom line.
"Don’t place a numeric value on cops, EMS and firefighters," she said. "When it comes to these people who put their lives on the line everyday, it’s not about saving money all the time. What is better for the community, as a whole, is to leave the structure as is."
Jenkins said he was okay if the structure remained as is but wanted an organizational chart prepared in case the city want revisits the idea. He added, however, that a salary range should be set and the vacancy should be opened for applications.
"So anyone internally or externally can apply for the job and be interviewed," he said.
Howard said city policy states that the city manager would review all applicants and then make a recommendation to council for approval.
The council and mayor also reviewed a proposal by Howard to restructure the assistant city manager position. While serving as the assistant manager, Howard also served as the city’s community development director. He said based on the amount of work, those positions should be separate.
The city manager’s pay is set at $137,112. Under his proposal the assistant city manager would start at $88,418 and the newly created community development director would start at $67,855.66.
Howard said if the proposal was approved and positions filled by June 1, the city would expend $73,355 less for salaries and payroll from the current fiscal year, but would need to allocate around $26,000 for the positions for FY 2019.
The council will consider the proposal which may be set for an action item for the next council meeting.