Carlton lays off fire chiefCiting the recent state unallotment of local government aid, Carlton city officials have cut the position of full-time fire chief and emergency management director.
By: Lisa Baumann, Pine Journal
Citing the recent state unallotment of local government aid, Carlton city officials have cut the position of full-time fire chief and emergency management director.
The position, held by Steve White since January 2007, was slashed to keep Carlton’s budget in check, Carlton Mayor Leola Rodd said.
“It’s been a tough road, and this is certainly not one of those cuts we wanted to have to make,” Rodd said. “It’s a sad thing.”
White said he knew for the last two weeks that city officials were considering eliminating the position, although he didn’t agree with it.
“My salary had very little impact on the city’s budget,” White said. “I felt that there were a lot of different things we could have trimmed. It seems like they made their mind up already.”
White’s salary and benefits totaled about $58,000, Carlton City Administrator C.J. Van Guilder said. The city will realize those savings in 2011, she said, as White was given about five months’ severance pay.
White said he believes his position was considered the logical one to eliminate because people still will be there to step in and do the work.
“But not having someone there full-time means some of the work will not get done,” he said.
When White came on board, he started the on-call program, and he’s proud of what he refers to as his career-building department.
“We worked hard to keep a base of people,” he said. “I knew many wanted to work here to gain experience and get their feet wet, and we took on that role. I hope they don’t lose it.”
While the department reorganizes, Assistant Chief Scott Bodin has been named interim chief.
“Things won’t be the same,” he said, “but the department will still move in the direction Steve’s been taking it in the past few years.”
He also said White would be missed.
“He did a very excellent job,” Bodin said. “He will be missed by the whole department body. It’s excellent that he said he was willing to help us during this transition.”
Before 2007, White worked for Potlatch and then Sappi for 17 years as a safety coordinator. Previously, he was a police officer in Omaha, Neb.