Twenty-seven applicants have thrown their hats into the ring to be considered for the position of Carroll County’s first fire and emergency medical services director.
Two county commissioners, the director of human resources, the county administrator, one person selected by Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association and two county department heads will narrow down the applicants before interviews begin, the commissioners decided at Thursday’s board meeting.
Carroll County posted the position Oct. 15, and the job opening will remain online until filled, according to Kim Frock, director of human resources.
Leading up to the decision to assemble a panel, Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, advocated for a member of the volunteer fire services to be included in the interview process.
“We’ve got to have the volunteer association involved in some aspect of it," he said.
Wantz described the fire director position as “unlike any other position” the county has had before.
Ultimately, the entire Board of Commissioners will decide who to hire.
Wantz proposed that a panel narrow down the pile of applications before the commissioners interview the top candidates. The interviews will be in closed session, as personnel matters do not have to be discussed in public meetings, Frock said in an interview.
During the meeting, Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, volunteered to serve on the panel with Wantz.
County Administrator Roberta Windham requested the panel include two department directors, as the fire director will work alongside other county department heads.
The department directors and the CCVESA-selected member who will sit on the panel have yet to be named.
The commissioners did not set a date for when the panel will begin to review applications.
Commissioners reject upgrade
Carroll County had the chance to upgrade its emergency alert system, Carroll Alert, for about $2,800, but the commissioners shot down the option because it was uncertain how the county would pay to maintain the upgrade in the future.
Department of Public Safety staff came to the commissioners Thursday with two options — to authorize the annual renewal of a contract with Everbridge (for emergency and non-emergency notifications) and pay the subsequent bill of $38,220, or to renew the contract and pay $49,570 for the bill, with an upgrade.
Campbell requested the commissioners approve the option with the upgrade, noting they would be able to offset most of the increased cost for the first year.
The $11,350 increase would provide “enhanced notification capabilities, including custom branding of the mobile app, SMART Weather automated alerts, custom keywords (short codes), as well as an audio bulletin board,” according to the meeting agenda.
Valerie Hawkins, emergency management manager, secured a one-time grant that would have covered about 75% of the increase to upgrade, but only for the first year, Campbell said.
Only the $38,000 option is included in the department’s budget, according to Campbell.
If the commissioners agreed to the upgrade, Campbell asked that the board do so with the intent to maintain the upgrade in the future — that is not included in the county budget.
Some commissioners balked at the idea, with Rothstein saying he is unsure whether the county could afford to increase the public safety budget by $11,000 every year.
Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, asked if Hawkins could use the grant money in another way if it was not used for the upgrade. Hawkins replied that the money would not go to waste and that it would be used somewhere.
Most of the commissioners came to the consensus they did not want to approve the upgrade without knowing how the public safety budget could be altered to afford the additional cost going forward. Wantz pressed for it, saying the upgrade would be an “incredibly important tool.”
By the end of the discussion, all five of the commissioners agreed to renew the contract and pay the bill without the upgrade. Wantz noted his “aye” was a reluctant one and said he disagreed with his colleagues.