BY LOUISA HANDLE
Journal Staff Writer
LITTLE COMPTON -- Fire Chief John Faria has decided to accept the Town Council's retirement offer, effective next month, leaving his position vacant until the council decides to fill it again.
The Town Council last night voted to approve the pension deal, which gives Faria, 50, credit for his 25 years with the Fire Department and for 5 years that he worked part-time with the Police, Fire and Highway Departments.
Town Council President Donald T. Gomez said that the town could avoid laying off a firefighter with the money saved from Faria's salary and benefits.
"The driving force is that we have some funding crisis within the Fire Department where we're going to have to let some people go," Gomez said.
Under the agreement, Faria will receive 60 percent of his salary -- the maximum the town allows -- instead of the 50 percent he would have been eligible for with only 25 years of service.
Faria, who has been chief for the past 14 years, said that while he was at first skeptical when the council approached him, he has come to welcome the idea of retirement. His departure ends a connection to the Fire Department that began when he was 12 years old and started visiting the former fire station near the Wilbur & McMahon Schools.
"I'm definitely ready for it," Faria said. "It's time to look forward and do something else."
Faria said he has been running a part-time business clearing land and he will devote himself to it full-time.
Voters at last month's Financial Town Meeting cut both the Fire and Police Department budgets to below last year's levels, approving a $498,947 Fire Department budget -- $46,490 less than last year's budget, and a $523,900 Police Department budget -- $28,403 less than last year's budget.
Gomez said not having a fire chief would save the town between $60,000 and $70,000 for the fiscal year, with benefits taken into consideration. According to a September 2002 Municipal Affairs survey, the fire chief earns $42,000 per year.
The Town Council has discussed the idea of eliminating the fire chief's position and replacing it with a director of public safety position that would oversee both departments. No decision has been made and the council last night made it clear that Faria's retirement doesn't mean a permanent end to the fire chief position.
"This pension deal does not eliminate the chief's position?" Town Council member Paul Golembeske asked during the meeting.
Gomez answered that the position would not be eliminated, but that "It's the Town Council's prerogative to decide when to re-fill it."
Gomez said the town's Pension Committee agreed to add the pension offer made to Faria as an amendment to the town's pension policies. He said it was written specifically with Faria in mind so that it wouldn't set a precedent for other town employees seeking a retirement deal.
"It narrows the focus without getting name-specific," Gomez said.
Faria said he plans to stop by the Town Hall today to sign the pension agreement, which states that his retirement must be some time in the month of August. He said it would probably be around Aug. 1.
The council approved the pension agreement by a 4-0 vote, with Town Council member Joseph Maiato absent from the meeting. When the vote was official, the audience applauded Faria, who received a handshake from Police Chief Ronald Coffey.
It remained unclear last night who will take the reins of the Fire Department. Firefighters' union President Donald Medeiros said last night that the Town Council hasn't yet said who will take over the chief's duties.
The council scheduled a work session for 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss to how handle the reduced Police Department budget. Coffey predicted that the budget cuts would have "severe ramifications" for Little Compton.
"There are going to be serious liabilities for the town," he said. He suggested that since it was a public meeting, then the people who advocated for the budget cuts should attend.
"I think it would be prudent if those responsible for those cuts would be there to see what they've done," Coffey said.
What is it you said Gonzo? "If your people have to eat a $@#& sandwhich, make sure you take the first bite!"
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07-25-2003, 01:20 PM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2000
Fire Chief Accepts Retirement to Save FF Jobs (Little Compton, RI)
Last edited by CollegeBuff; 07-25-2003 at 01:24 PM.
07-25-2003, 04:15 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Jefferson Township Bellville
That is awesome, getting out of the career he loves to let others keep their jobs. All hats off to Retired Chief John Faria.
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