MERIDEN — Fire Chief Ken Morgan’s request to hire a second deputy fire chief is scheduled to be heard by the City Council’s finance committee later this month.
The request was approved by the council’s personnel and public safety committees during a remote joint meeting last week. The personnel committee approved the request by a 3-to-2 vote, while the public safety committee passed it unanimously.
The request for a second deputy chief is not new. Morgan, speaking at the joint meeting last week, explained it was recommended in an administrative review in 2012, a year before he joined the department.
Morgan reiterated previously raised points about the weekly hours — usually 50 to 55 a week — that he and his current deputy chief, Ryan Dunn, put in to complete their tasks.
Morgan said the department’s administration is now at the point where any new responsibility “that’s added on, I wouldn’t say it’s burdensome, but it’s not getting the attention it should be getting.”
Most members of both committees voiced support for the proposal.
Councilors Dan Brunet and Michael Carabetta, both of whom voted against the proposal, raised separate questions about the department’s existing management setup and added responsibilities. Carabetta wondered whether the added responsibilities were related to the COVID-19 pandemic or the city’s ongoing emergency dispatch center staffing shortages.
“This has been an ongoing conversation for quite some time,” said Councilor Sonja Jelks, a member of the personnel committee, before the vote. “We know this has been a need for the fire department.”
Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who didn’t vote last week, said during the meeting that it’s worth noting another department head, Police Chief Robert Rosado, had added back a deputy chief in his department.
Sarpati said while he had previously expressed concern about the additional deputy chief position in the past, Morgan has proven the need for it.
When the finance committee discusses the proposal later this month, members will look at budget implications of approving the position, including the annual salary of $110,000.
Morgan projected the position’s total cost, after factoring in benefits and other non-salary expenses, could be between $140,000 to $150,000.