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Council Denies Funding National Search for Next Fire Chief

Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima breaks the tie after the Common Council was split on financial decision.

The Waukesha Common Council will not give the Police & Fire Commission funding to hire a national search firm to select the after Mayor Jeff Scrima broke a tie vote Tuesday night.

With indications that members of the Common Council want to hire an internal candidate, half the council refused to fund the search firm.

“It is a message to those employees that if you work hard, you could be rewarded,” said Alderman Andy Reiland.

The fire chief’s position is vacant because Fire Chief Allen LaConte retired in March. Assistant Fire Chief Steve Howard currently is serving as acting fire chief. The funding for the search firm would come out of the existing fire department budget from salary savings created by the vacancy.

The Waukesha Police & Fire Commission previously voted to have a nationwide search firm help find the next fire chief. The commission is in charge of all hiring and firing decisions at the police and fire departments per state statutes.

Alderman Terry Thieme said he couldn’t support “to tell me that there is a good candidate here.”

Alderman Roger Patton said he was in favor of hiring a national search firm to help combat any feelings of jealousy or rivalries in the department.

"You say they have four that are eligible candidates,” Patton said. “Which one do you pick?”

Alderman Brian White was not present at the meeting.

Voting against funding a nationwide search were:

  • Kathleen Cummings
  • Rick Hastings
  • Reiland
  • Duane Paulson
  • Eric Payne
  • Steve Johnson
  • Thieme

Voting for funding the nationwide search were:

  • Paul Ybarra
  • Chris Hernandez
  • Joan Francoeur
  • Patton
  • Joe Pieper
  • John Kalblinger
  • Vance Skinner
Brad Olson April 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I have been in business for a long time and the comment, "You say they have four that are eligible candidates,” Patton said. “Which one do you pick?”, what you are paid to do? If we have solid internal choices why pay 16k to put the responsibility on someone else? 16k can be used in a lot of different ways and not wasted for lack of wanting to make a decision.
Waukesha Girl April 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I just don't get this City. So hire from within and then we are stuck with someone who may or may not be the best candidate for the job. Use the money you are saving because right now you are NOT paying a chief as he has retired. I don't get it, I just don't get it. Who knows what will happen, perhaps the best candidate is someone else, or we might be surprised and it will be from within. We don't know until we look at ALL of the prospects!
scott french April 18, 2012 at 11:08 PM
this is only way the city will save money by hire within steve howard is one the best persons for this job

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