PARKER, Fla. (WMBB) — Parker city officials hope to have a new fire chief by week’s end.
Council members interviewed five candidates during a special meeting Monday morning.
“It went really well,” Parker Mayor Andrew Kelly said. “I’m happy, and I think the council’s happy.”
Former Chief Matthew Jensen resigned in May after almost a year in the position. He reportedly resigned over low pay. Mayor Kelly said the position is not for everyone.
“Some guys or gals come from an all-paid department, and then they come to our city and it’s a volunteer fire department with one on-call paid guy or gal,” he said. “It’s a hard transition for folks. They’re not used to the type of management style necessary to function in that environment.”
Fifty-three people applied. The council narrowed the list to six candidates.
One dropped out before the interviews. Another dropped out during his interview, saying the $50,000 salary was too low.
The council will address the pay when discussing next year’s budget.
“My position is simple: if we’re going to pay the fire chief more, then we’ve got to pay the police chief, the public works director and the administrative supervisor, the city clerk more,” Mayor Kelly said.
Mayor Kelly joined the volunteer department in 1992, spending 27 years as the first paid fire chief. He said the interview process is personal.
“It matters to me as our city moves forward that we have good fire, good police, good public works, good admin,” he said. “When we were interviewing these folks today, I know exactly where they’ve been.”
The mayor said the council has tentatively agreed on their candidate.
“I think we may have a good one,” he said. “I think we do.”
The council will vote on the top choice at Tuesday night’s meeting and extend him an offer on Wednesday.