Senate bill on fire chief appointments not good for cities, Richton Park village manager says
Proposed legislation in the state Senate that would change the way cities select fire chiefs would not be good for municipalities, Richton Park Village Manager Regan Stockstell said during a recent interview.
"The bill as introduced is harmful because it limits the flexibility that a city has to exercise its managerial authority," Stocksell, well into his second year as village manager, told the Prairie State Wire. "At a time when cities are being asked to do more with less, blocking paths for a city to have a say on the public safety officer overseeing both departments, when that might be the only financially feasible option for that community, seems short sighted.
Senate Bill 2619 would amend the state's municipal code to create additional requirements for appointing fire chiefs and limit home rule, according to the bill's summary.
"Furthermore it may limit the ability of the city to hire the person who might be the best fit for that particular community," Stocksell said. "Additionally it could cost more for the city if the only available hire under the original bill would be a high cost pension recipient or a double dipper."
An amendment to the bill, approved by a Senate committee vote earlier this month, would require a fire chief be responsible for day-to-day operations of municipal fire department for than 180 days and possess a variety of certifications. A prospective fire chief also would be required to have an associate degree in fire science or a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college, according to the amended bill.
Stocksell was appointed village manager in August 2016 by the Richton Park's president and board of trustees. Stocksell, the village's former community development director, had been serving as interim village manager following the departure of his predecessor, De'Carlon Seewood, who became city manager in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police-involved shooting death of Michael Brown. Stocksell has worked for Richton Park for about 20 years, starting out as a planning intern in 1998.
SB2619 was introduced in February by Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia), who represents Illinois' 36th Senate District. Sens. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) co-sponsored the bill.