MT. VERNON — One week after holding a joint meeting with the Fire and Police Commission, the City Council will hold a first reading and make a decision on changing the hiring practices of fire and police chiefs and assistant chiefs.
The council will meet 7 p.m. Monday at the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building at Veterans Park in a special meeting. The agenda calls for a first reading on an ordinance amending the portion affecting the Fire and Police Commission which would allow “for immediate solicitation of external candidates for the position of police chief, fire chief, assistant police chief and assistant fire chief.”
In addition the agenda states the council will hold a “discussion and decision relating to modification of Chief/Assistant Chief hiring and discharge procedures transferring authority solely from the Board of Fire and Police Commission to the mayor, city council and office of city manager.”
The issue of transferring power to hire and fire the chiefs from both departments to the city manager and the city council was first brought up in public last month when an ordinance was presented for first reading. The council held a first reading only at that time and asked for more information.
The workshop was held last week as a joint meeting of the council and Fire and Police Commission. City Attorney David Leggans and City Manager Ron Neibert provided an overview of the commission and its duties as well as options on how to change the procedures. The two stated they had also consulted with attorneys for the Illinois Municipal League and the Illinois Fire and Police Commission.
Options presented included keeping things as they are under state statutes for the Fire and Police Commission, or exerting Home Rule authority and giving the authority to hire and fire chiefs and assistant chiefs to the city manager, with or without council confirmation.