Brigantine will move forward with a plan to solicit candidates for a public safety director position that has not yet been officially approved.
Last month, City Council approved an employment advertisement seeking candidates for the position, which would take the place of the city’s retiring chiefs of police, fire and Beach Patrol. However, the ad has not yet appeared.
City Manager Jennifer Blumenthal said she’s still researching how other municipality’s have handled similar positions and expects the ad to run next week. As per the council’s instruction, the ad will not include a full job description or salary range.
The council would need to amend the existing public safety director position included in the city’s salary ordinance before moving ahead with the plan. Blumenthal said any candidates who respond to the ad would be informed that the position is contingent on that approval.
“We’re going through that process to learn what’s best for Brigantine,” she said. “We’re not necessarily hiring a public safety director.”
The plan has been controversial, drawing a capacity crowd at last month’s meeting. The ad also drew criticism, including from Mayor Phil Guenther, who voted against placing it.
“Most public agencies create a position, develop a job description, establish a salary and then advertise to fill a position,” he said. “This is a very unusual process.”
Guenther said he worries about how the odd procedure of researching this new position may impact the departments.
“There are consequences” to the three departments, he said. “It’s uncertain who will assume the chiefs’ positions in those three departments, and I think that uncertainty has an impact on performance and morale.”
Councilwoman Lisa McClay, one of five council members who voted for the ad, said the public safety director issue is still being discussed and no decision has yet been made.
“We’re being very careful and scrutinizing,” she said.
Blumenthal said it’s important to consider the city’s options, given the unusual situation it’s in with vacant leadership posts in its three public safety departments.
“That probably won’t happen any other time,” she said. “We have to be prudent and do due diligence; we have to look at other options.”
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