Finance board opposes spending $25,000 on search consultant for Southington fire chief

Finance board opposes spending $25,000 on search consultant for Southington fire chief


SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Finance voted against spending $25,000 on a search consultant to help find the next fire chief.

Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Michael Bunko said afterwards he disagreed with the decision. The fire board has yet to meet to decide how to fill the vacancy left by former chief Harold “Buddy” Clark.

Eric Heath is interim fire chief until August, although his six-month contract can be renewed.

At a meeting last week, Board of Finance Chairman John Leary and board member Joe Labieniec voted for the search consultant funding, while Ed Pocock Jr., John Moise and Kevin Beaudoin voted against it.

Moise pointed out that the Town Council hired a town manager without a consultant. “It can be done,” he said.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Labieniec said he has had good experiences with search firms, particularly with top executive positions.

“I think you stand a much better chance when you have an expert who does this on a regular basis,” he said. “This would be an appropriate expense for the town to incur.”

The fire board interviewed several search consultants and recommended one. Bunko said an outside consultant could do an objective job and conduct formal testing for the top fire position.

“I don’t know that we’re able to do that,” Bunko said of the testing.

Finding a chief will likely fall to fire board members and town officials.

“It would have to be through the town manager’s office and the human resources department,” Bunko said.

Moise said he’d be in favor of funding background checks and other vetting processes associated with finding a chief.
Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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