ALBANY -- The city is considering its options now that Piedmont has decided that its fire chief arrangement will officially end May 31.
The Piedmont City Council decided on Feb. 4 to end the arrangement that had Chief Ed Tubbs serving both cities, after Tubbs announced that he will be retiring in May.
"We just got this news and I'll be looking at whether there are options," Albany City Manager Beth Pollard said. "Either filling a full-time chief position or talking to other agencies (about sharing a chief)."
Pollard added that another option could be consolidating the chief's position with that of battalion chief. Brian Crudo retired from that position this month.
"I think that Beth's looking at a variety of options to present to council," Councilwoman Peggy Thomsen said. "Right now I don't know how we're going to go."
The joint arrangement started in April, 2011, with the intent of saving both small cities money in tough budget times. Albany saved about $85,000 a year and Piedmont saved about $136,000 annually.
However, Piedmont City Administrator Geoff Grote told the Bay Area News Group that having a part-time chief impacted Piedmont's fire department.
"Managing two departments in nonadjacent cities more than doubled Tubbs' workload," Grote said. "Employees said a half-time chief does not meet the department's needs."
Thomsen said Albany was happy with the arrangement.
"I think it worked well because of the people," she said. "Ed was a good fit for Albany and our firefighters were open-minded. It did work. If it would work again is a question. Part of it is personality. Part of it is how its configured."
Tubbs said the dual position "was very challenging."
"We're very grateful to Chief Tubbs for really doing an extraordinary job of working in both agencies," Pollard said. "The fact he wore a different patch on both shoulders, I thought that was emblematic."
Pollard said she would like to have proposals to present to the Albany council by March. That would leave time to search for candidates before Tubbs retires.
"The main issue is providing fast response in the event of a fire or medical emergency," she said. "Any option that we look at will have that first and foremost."
Said Thomsen, "I'm basically looking forward to hearing the options that are viable. Those are the ones I want to hear."