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Fire chief salary, Chiquita Lock, on Council agenda

By Staff | Mar 2, 2013

A discussion on the salary of the new fire chief and on the aging Chiquita Lock will be among the issues on the agenda at Monday’s regular city council meeting at City Hall.

In a personnel action, the city manager will request authority to pay the candidate up to the maximum of the salary range for that position, and also request the authority to pay relocation expenses of up to $5,000.

Councilmember Lenny Nesta said City Manager John Szerlag wants to give a salary commensurate to what a fire chief should make, especially when you consider what other employees make.

“Potentially, there are division chiefs who are making close to what they’re offering, so you’re not going to get a chief who makes less than a division chief,” Nesta said.

Nesta said he did not know what Szerlag plans to seek as a salary, but the Cape Coral web site as of Nov. 26, 2012 had a salary range between $81,307 and $134,139.

Nesta said once the salary range is determined, staff will go into negotiations.

“This just gives the city manager some flexibility,” city spokesperson Connie Barron said. “He needs to have the authority so he can negotiate for a salary he chooses.”

A decision on the next chief likely won’t come until next week. The five candidates to replace retired chief Bill Van Helden are:

1) Heather Burford, current fire chief and director of emergency management for Ridgefield, Conn.

2) David A. Casey, former deputy fire chief for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Fire Rescue.

3) Timothy P. Hayes, current deputy chief of operations for Gainesville, Fla. Fire Rescue.

4) Bryan Heirston, former deputy fire chief and fire marshal in Oklahoma City.

5) Dennis L. Rubin, former fire chief of the Washington D.C. Fire and EMS Dept., as well as Fire-Rescue chief in Atlanta, Norfolk, Va., and Dothan Ala.

Also on the agenda is a continuation of the discussion the council had last week regarding the aging Chiquita Lock.

No decision was made during the first discussion

Last week, Public Works Director Steve Neff and Szerlag gave the council three possible options on how to what to do: replace the structure, tear it down or fix it.

To replace the lock would take $13 million, Neff estimated, with the other options in the $300,000 to $600,000 range.

Each of the three options were given weight, but no decision was made and the motion was tabled.

“We need to figure out where we’re going to go with this and what other options are out there,” Nesta said. “We talked about RFI (Request for Information), bringing in a consultant, so it’s a continuation.”

This week Neff and staff will provide additional information to allow council to come up with a decision, Barron said.

“We will be asking them for direction on this,” Barron said. “Last week it was like ‘Which option do you want? Yes.'”