BEARDSTOWN — A City Council proposal to give approval power for fire and police chief appointments to a city commission will go to committee before being discussed further.
Following the dismissal of former Chief Shane Hunt and the subsequent appointment of two replacement chiefs after one resigned, all within the span of three months, the council decided to pursue changing the way the city hires and fires police and fire chiefs.
The council took time at its Nov. 4 meeting to discuss whether the move would be feasible.
Jeff Soltermann, an attorney for Bellati, Fay, Bellatti & Beard, the law firm representing Beardstown, said that handing over the power to a commission would strip the council’s ability to approve the hiring and firing of chiefs, which might not further the council’s goal of providing stability to the chief positions.
“Basically, as a council, they’d be ceding their authority to approve police and fire chiefs to the commission,” Soltermann said in an interview several days after the meeting. “If there is a recommendation I made, it was that they research this further so they fully understand it.”
The Police and Fire Commission, being an entity outside of the council, would set the rules for hiring and firing chiefs. The council would have no
say in the process, although the mayor still would be the one to bring appointments to the commission.
Soltermann didn’t have enough information to provide insight on another council concern, the mayor’s ability to appoint temporary chiefs to fill a vacancy, but said that he will look into it.
Discussion of the issue now moves to the Ordinance Committee before heading back to the council for review.
Nick Draper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @nick_draper.