Council delays vote on new fire chief


Marlborough – Several councilors, as well as Mayor Nancy Stevens, were disappointed after the City Council did not vote Feb. 22 on the appointment of the Personnel Committee’s recommendation of Ricky Plummer to be Marlborough’s next fire chief. The vote was expected because the Personnel Committee voted last week in favor of a suspension of the rules at the Feb. 22 council meeting, in order to act on the matter.

Prior to the meeting, Plummer said that he was excited about the prospect of joining the Marlborough Fire Department and was eager to hear the council’s decision.

After the meeting, Plummer, who serves as the chief of the fire and rescue services in Gray, Maine, explained that he was told the council would vote on the matter. Missing a budget meeting in his own department in Maine to attend the meeting, he said that he was disappointed that no vote had been taken.

Chair of the Personnel Committee, Ward 1 Councilor Joseph Delano, explained that although he was in complete support of hiring Plummer, he did not feel comfortable voting to hire him without first reviewing the contract negotiated by the mayor.

Ward 6 Councilor Edward Clancy, who has served on the City Council for the past nine years, was surprised by Delano’s decision.

“I am very disappointed; I have never seen this before,” Clancy said.

“We usually hire first and work out contract negotiations after,” Ward 4 Councilor Peter Juaire said.

Explaining that the City Council does not have the right to vote on the contract and that it is the responsibility of the mayor to negotiate the contract, Delano said he was concerned and wanted to see the contract.

“I am very supportive of Ricky Plummer as fire chief and intend to vote for him,” Delano said. “It seemed fiscally prudent to do due diligence and to fully understand the financial commitment we are looking at.”

As surprised as everyone else by the decision of the council, Stevens said it is customary to negotiate contracts after positions have been confirmed. Apologetic to Plummer for inconveniencing him, Stevens said she wished that the council would have made their wishes known during one of the two Personnel Committee meetings.

“It is a catch-22, Stevens said, “He has not been confi rmed. If I had negotiated a contract I would have looked presumptuous. I did not think it was appropriate to negotiate a contract before the confirmation of the council,”

Not expecting to delay the vote until the next council meeting and slow the process down, Delano said he wanted to review the contract because he had some concerns with agreements made in the outgoing chief ’s contract. Declining to be specific about what concerned him, Delano said that the contractual items in question were made by both previous mayors as well as the current one.

Juaire, who was on the search committee for the new fire chief, is hopeful that this will not deter Plummer.

“I had no idea, Juaire said, “I am definitely disappointed.”

Still interested in the position, Plummer said it was unfortunate.

“My life is on hold, and my department in Maine has been waiting for me to give my notice. They have to start the same procedures,” Plummer said.