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Danville could decide on new fire station within 60 days: Commission spends three hours in closed session, approves three promotions

Although Danville City Commission had a three-hour executive session Thursday morning, with an agenda outlining deliberations on acquisition or sale of property, it returned only to announce three employees were being promoted — a plan already included in the new fiscal year’s budget. The agenda also noted possible personnel discussions.

The commission similarly entered executive session for two hours in mid-June to discuss potential property acquisition. At that time, Mayor Mike Perros said the discussions involved where the city might build a new downtown fire station.

“We’re going to begin to enter into some deliberations that is pretty much a milestone for this commission,” Perros said at the June meeting. “Our present fire station — as everybody knows — is 50 years old. So the decision we’re going to make here — whatever that outcome is, through deliberations, through study, through discussion — the outcome of that decision is going to be significant for the next 50 years, we hope, if not longer.”

Asked if Thursday’s meeting concerned the fire station project, City Manager Ron Scott wrote in an email, “I believe our city officials are closer to making a future determination of the most appropriate site on which to locate our new central fire department. However, no decision has yet been reached on this question, and that decision can only be made in a future, open meeting of the city commission.”

Scott said it’s likely the city commission will have one or more future executive sessions on the topic. “I am hopeful that a decision on this issue can be reached during the next 60 days.”

After the executive session, Mayor Perros deferred to Scott after coming back into session.

“I have recommendations made to better prepare the city to meet our challenges and our future needs … three individuals to be promoted to new titles and job duties,” Scott said. The promotions had already been recommended in the budget and that the move was “reviewed this morning in greater depth,” he added.

City Engineer Earl Coffey has been promoted to the serve as the city’s utility director; City Clerk Donna Peek now holds the title of human resources director; and Nick Warren has been promoted from network administrator to IT director.

“I would say that with the length of service of all those individuals and the stellar way in which they performed over many years,” the commission should feel comfortable moving them straight into their new positions without the normal probationary period, Scott said.

“For a number of years, we have desperately needed to broaden and deepen our bench, if you will, because we have had too much responsibility vested in the hands of too few,” Perros said.  “From a workload standpoint of view, that has been difficult at best.”

He said “broadening the bench” is a theme the city needs to continue moving forward with.

Perros said it’s been pointed out before and “was again today that we’re not a small, little town anymore. We’re a small city, with a $50 million-a-year budget and hundreds of employees.”

Scott said while the promotions are a significant step, “it’s impossible to move into that new role without continuing to assist.”

He was referring to the position of city engineer the city is now advertising to fill. It soon will be doing the same for a new city clerk. One additional network technician position will also be advertised for, to fill the gap as Warren transitions into his new role.

Commissioner Rick Serres said he thinks the promotions are a move that is “well thought out, and a move to be more efficient to take care of our citizens.”

City commission approved the promotions unanimously.