Argo Council votes to allow fire chief to work part time temporarily
By Nathan Prewett
For the Tribune
ARGO – The Argo City Council on Monday voted to allow Fire Chief Mike Platts’ position to be reclassified as part-time for six months as he has taken a job at the Homewood Fire Department. This came after some disagreements on the matter and a prior vote that resulted in a tie.
At the meeting on July 11, Platts approached the council, saying that he had taken a second job at another fire department. He requested that the council consider keeping him employed on a part-time in Argo.
The job that Platts took was at the Homewood Fire Department and he is currently working three days a month at the Pell City department. Platts’ job at Homewood requires him to work every third day. He said that he would no longer work at Pell City if the council approved his request.
In a letter of which copies were available at the meeting, Platt proposed he be paid hourly at the same rate as he is now at with no benefits. He currently works 40 per week for $22.69 an hour. In the letter, he estimated that reclassifying him as part-time would save the city approximately $24,191 a year.
“Bottom line I will still be working for Argo 76 percent of the time now and getting paid 60 percent of current pay and benefits,” Platts stated in the letter.
Platts also said in the letter that he would resign if the council did not approve his request although he would like to stay on in “a lower capacity.”
Before Platts addressed the council, Scott Payne from the Argo Fire Department spoke at the podium and said that the department supported Platts in his request. Payne was among multiple supporters who spoke, including Richard Harvey from the Springville Fire Department.
When Platts spoke, he read aloud from a letter he drafted that included his history with the Argo department as well as departments in other cities. He added that in addition to saving money for the city, other firefighters on the staff could have additional hours or more could be brought in.
At one point in the meeting, Argo Mayor Betty Bradley addressed rumors that the council had fired Platts at the last meeting. The rumors stemmed from a post on Facebook, she said after the meeting.
Bradley raised a concern on who would be on the shifts when Platts is in Homewood. He said that could be resolved with either bringing on another firefighter or using a current worker on the staff to fill in the shift.
As he did in the last meeting, Councilor Gordon Massey proposed having Platt work in Argo part-time for six months until a decision could be made on whether or not to allow him to continue with it.
“It’s irresponsible on our part not to at least try and see if it works,” he said.
Bradley contended that the position that Platts currently fills calls for a full-time chief. This was echoed by Councilor Tony Alldredge, who said that he did not see the benefit of having Platts on part-time while working at another department. Similarly, Councilor Ann Brown voiced concern because of the city working to change the position of fire chief from part-time to full time over the years.
“I’d hate to see us regress into going back to a part-time chief when we worked our way up to a full-time chief,” she said.
When the council moved to vote, Platts’ request was favored by Massey, Councilor Ann Cowan and Councior Robbie Bowman. Alldredge, Brown and Bradley voted against, which resulted in a tie. City attorney J. Scott Barnett said that the tie causes the motion to die.
However, after more discussion the idea of reclassifying Platts for six months was brought up again. The council eventually moved to vote on this matter in which all but Alldredge and Bradley voted in favor. The vote was met with applause by the crowd.
In other business, the council approved $1,350 for an invoice by Southeast Alarm to repair the door at the police department’s building. The council also voted to pay $3,000 next month to the St. Clair Economic Development Council, as well as payment to First Bankers for the fire truck. Next year the council will make its last payment for the truck.
$1,067 was approved to pay Best Insurance for the new police vehicle. Bradley said that a traffic study by the Regional Planning Commission of Birmingham has arrived at city hall and that St. Clair County has sent $6,000 to be paid to RPCB.
The next Argo City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug 14 with a work session to be held at 6 p.m.