BY TONY HUFFMAN
A split Effingham City Council rejected the creation of an assistant fire chief position Tuesday. However, members did unanimously approve creating a position to beef up the city’s social media presence among other duties.
In a 3-2 vote, commissioners ultimately voted down the proposal, citing salary and job duties as the reason.
City Administrator Jim Arndt said the position would help fill several job duties, including filling in for Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy while he is attending training. Arndt said the position also would help maintain consistency in business fire inspections, which are currently performed by Holomy and other lieutenants in the fire department.
In addition to helping the chief in various departmental duties, the assistant would also be an active firefighter, which Arndt said the city needs. He added the position’s salary was also figured into the city’s recently passed budget.
Arndt pointed out the city has had an assistant chief in the past, most recently under the previous fire chief, but said the position was eliminated because of budget cuts.
Commissioner Matt Hirtzel took issue with the position’s proposed salary.
“The salary is too high,” said Hirtzel of the proposed $76,377 per year compensation.
Commissioner Doug Althoff said if the city needed additional personnel to perform fire inspections, a position should be created for a fire inspector or another building official within the city.
“We could have combined jobs from two offices,” said Althoff.
Milleville also voted against adding the position.
The council did, however, unanimously vote in favor of creating a position within the Economic Development/Tourism Department.
According to Arndt, the employee would be responsible for business retention visits within the city, tourism-related duties and the city’s social media presence.
“We need to beef up the city’s social media presence,” he said.