May 28—Riley County will pay nearly double the salary of retired Pat Collins to replace him with three people.
Riley County Fire Chief Michael Regal recently resigned, effective June 4, to become fire chief in York, South Carolina, a job that's closer to family.
County commissioners on May 20 — the same day of Regal's resignation — approved splitting the position up into two deputy fire chief positions to help spread out the responsibilities. One will oversee the administration side of the job and the other will handle operations.
This move means that the duties of Pat Collins, who retired as the county's emergency management director and fire chief in December, has been split into three positions. The county decided to split Collins' duties into two positions prior to his retirement.
The county paid Collins $115,428.30 in 2020, according to county records.
By comparison, records list Emergency Management Director Russel Stukey's salary as $106,798.12 and the proposed deputy chief salary would be $61,900.80, according to the May 20 agenda.
The cost of two chiefs would be $123,801.60 for a total of $230,599.72 for the three positions.
Stukey said at Thursday's county meeting that after advertising the roles internally, officials hired John Martens as the deputy chief of administration, which he started Tuesday.
Martens had been working as a volunteer firefighter with the district since 2016, but he had previously been involved with fire service both in part-time and full-time capacities throughout his career.
"... When this opportunity presented itself, I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring me back home and get to serve again full time," Martens said.
Riley County Fire District No. 1 officials continue to seek an additional deputy fire chief to replace Regal.
He has served as fire chief since January after being promoted from assistant fire chief.
Stukey said he recently interviewed an internal candidate for the additional deputy chief position and the district will continue to accept applicants until they find the right candidate for the job.