High Springs Chief Fired Up
The High Springs budget that included a substantial reduction in salary for the Police Chief, and complete elimination of the Fire Chief's position, was read line by line at Thursday night's public hearing.
However, before the floor opened up for comment, Mayor Larry Travis asked commissioners to re-think the Fire Chief position.
"I was caught off guard, by what the mayor said tonight," said Captain Bruce Gillingham, who may be the next Fire Chief in High Springs.
"There's been a lot of different ideas thrown out there, and I wasn't expecting that general direction," he said.
Former Chief Verne Riggall agrees. Riggall resigned at the end of last month, after seeing the city manager's proposed budget which completely eliminated the Fire Chief position.
"My current concern again, goes back to public safety-we're taking 60 to 70 years of experience off the street- and we got rid of it in one afternoon, just gone," he said.
"The only actual reductions we're seeing in public safety is the removal of a Fire Chief, total cost of that position was $85,000 to the city," said Eric May, city commissioner.
Mayor Travis pitched the idea of making Captain Bruce Gillingham Chief---an idea that caused Riggall to leave the meeting.
"The issue comes down to finding a individual to work for a small salary, with the quality to produce," said Riggall.
Gillingham says he's willing to be a Captain, running the fire department like a Chief...at a lower salary.
"I've done it for no money, I've done it for money...as far as the salaries go, its irrelevant at this time, the department has to run and we have to continue in that direction," he said.
Commissioners passed the budget and will discuss and vote on any changes, including adjustments to the Fire Chief position, at the second reading on September 19th.
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