Tuesday’s Fire District Meeting

Thanks to one of our intrepid correspondents, we have an account of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District’s Board of Commissioners.

The LP Fire District board met on Feb. 17th at 6:00 PM. Ray Robinson was absent and Chairman Richard Alliet encountered a traffic delay on the way, so Commissioner Bart Dugdale chaired the meeting until Mr. Alliet’s arrival later in the meeting.

The several visitors in attendance, including three police jurors (Hunter, Bennett, and Roberson) and the Police Jury Administrator Courtney Hall, might have expected a short meeting with only one agenda item to occupy the Commissioners: consideration of a proposal brought up and tabled at the previous meeting to add vision insurance coverage to the employees’ benefits package. Richard Durrett, who was absent from the previous meeting when this item was initially presented, questioned the wisdom of adding benefits and costs to an already tight budget, stating that, although the cost did not seem too bad, this was for only the remaining 10 months of this year, and “…these things have a way of growing on you”. Discussion revealed the Police Jury employees have vision coverage available from a cafeteria-style benefits plan, but they pay the entire cost via payroll deduction. Richard Durrett offered a motion, seconded by Mike Fulton, to offer the coverage to the department employees cafeteria-style, with no subsidy from the department. This motion passed with no dissenting votes.

Dinner was delayed when the discussion turned to “other business”: commissioners discussed plans for the upcoming interviews of candidates who applied for the position of chief. Again Richard Durrett questioned the Board’s initial plan to have three commissioners interview the candidates and narrow the field to the top three before presenting these to the entire board for consideration. Chair Richard Alliet described the three-member group as informal and intended to expedite the process, stating that he believed they would not be subject to the open meeting law and the requirements for advance public notification for the interviews, which they intended to conduct in private with each candidate.

Durrett suggested that such a group needs to be a committee formed by the Board, maybe even a committee of the whole, and would need to conform to the requirements of the open meetings laws. Commission Counsel Jeff Robinson was in attendance and agreed that the board could create a committee for the purpose of interviews, but they did in fact have to comply with open meetings notification requirements; also the interviews could be held in private under the provisions for meeting in executive session.

Durrett also cautioned that, based on previous experiences, the commission needs to have the job duties and the pay and benefits for the chief’s position well and clearly defined, going forward. It was agreed that the commission still needed to develop a salary range and defined duties and benefits package prior to conduction interviews, and work will be done to complete these items as soon as practical, with input from Acting Chief Watson. It was suggested that the eight candidates for the job be contacted once the pay and benefits and duties are defined, to be certain of those who are still interested in interviewing before scheduling interviews.

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2 Responses to “Tuesday’s Fire District Meeting”

  1. ShowMeResults Says:

    I haven’t been attending these meetings and therefore I can only formulate an opinion based on what has been reported here. This report seems to indicate the hiring process for new fire chief is pretty sloppy. Kudos to Mr. Durrett for bringing up these important issues. Are they going to hire a new chief or not? How long has it been since they knew hiring a new fire chief was needed? Why haven’t they already defined the job description along with the pay and benefits? Is it unreasonable to think this should have been accomplished, and received legal review, in conjunction with generating the advertisement for the job opening? Again, I’m basing my opinion on this report. I don’t get the politics of fire chief hiring. Undoubtedly plays into it. But to an outsider like me it sure seems like the new fire chief hiring process hasn’t received much professional attention. Is it by design or what?

    • Mr. E Says:

      Perhaps they’re leery of hiring a new chief before they get finished paying for the last chief. Ford is suing the Fire District for back pay and benefits. Seems to me the Fire District is running better without a chief than it ever did with one, so why mess with success?

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