PIEDMONT -- It's a tale of two cities -- with a dilemma.

Piedmont Fire Chief Ed Tubbs announced Jan. 3 he is retiring in May. Piedmont will not only lose their chief, but the city of Albany as well.

Tubbs was hired by Piedmont in August 2010 to replace the retiring John Speakman. About eight months later, Piedmont approached Tubbs with the concept of covering two cities as fire chief, to which he agreed. Albany's chief had left, and the two cities could save money by sharing Tubbs' time.

Albany would pay Piedmont $135,985 per year for Tubbs' services. In April 2012, Tubbs agreed to the dual duty for two more years. Often, two smaller cities will share a fire or police chief for cost savings.

Now the hunt is on for a new chief. But will he or she be receptive to the idea of serving two cities?

"We are impacted by this retirement how to proceed with Albany," City Administrator Geoff Grote said at Piedmont's council meeting Monday.

Piedmont Mayor John Chiang noted that serving two cities simultaneously could diminish the applicant pool for the job.

Piedmont still has an agreement with Albany for a shared chief. Piedmont has 90 days to notify Albany if the agreement will be terminated.

Should Piedmont hire a fire chief, then wait a few months before suggesting dual duty? What would Albany do meanwhile? Should the two cities' agreement be terminated, then restruck? These and other questions hang in the air.


Advertisement

The Piedmont council on Monday approved spending about $23,000 to hire recruiterment firm Bob Murray & Associates to begin the search for a new chief.

Grote was to confer on Wednesday with Albany City Manager Beth Pollard on how to proceed and will update the council Jan. 22. He said Albany would be included in candidate interviews if the shared arrangement is continued.

"We wish him the best," said Albany Councilman Michael Barnes. "I think the arrangement between Piedmont and Albany was a good one. It was economies of scale, It was the ability to share expensive equipment so two cities didn't have to purchase duplicate equipment."

Barnes supports continuing the arrangement with Piedmont, saying, "Just speaking as one council member, I'm hoping that we can work something out again with Piedmont and they will be supportive of that."

---