Atlantic City Council members are considering hiring a new public information officer to provide a central message from City Hall — especially during a major storm.
Council members considered the measure at Wednesday’s reorganization meeting, but tabled it until the next meeting Jan. 16. Council President William Marsh said the person would provide a single official message from City Hall and would be able to inform the public and media about things such as events or important information during an emergency. Marsh said previous administrations had a PIO.
“We have so many people (on council), we could have one voice to give the message the mayor and council want to get out,” he said.
But Councilman Rizwan Malik asked for the measure to be tabled for further discussion. The position would pay a salary of $50,000 and benefits would cost the city another $40,000 a year, and Malik said a new position was unnecessary and the duties could be handled by someone already on staff.
“We already have a bad budget,” he said. “We don’t need to add another position.”
Councilman George Tibbitt, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the public safety director and local chiefs can provide the information during major storms. He was also reluctant to add a new position.
“I’ll volunteer and do the job for free,” he quipped to his fellow board members.
City Council re-elected Marsh to serve his third year as president. A councilman since 2006, Marsh said priorities will be curbing violence, lowering taxes and improving city services.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We must be a leader and not a follower. We must put our best foot forward.”
Also at the meeting, Council elected Frank Gilliam Jr. to serve as the body’s new vice president.
Gilliam, who is in his fourth year on Council, said a big issue this year will be improving the relationship between the Police Department and residents. He said he hopes to implement a new civilian review board that would investigate incidents involving officers and the public.
Contact Joel Landau:
Follow @landaupressofac on Twitter