Newburgh City Council approved the amendments to the city charter and city code that will now incorporate the approved title of fire commissioner and the position’s roles within the fire department. The final vote was unanimous during the council’s meeting on Monday, March 13 and the position has not been filled at this time. Councilwoman Patty Sofokles was not present at the meeting.
On October 22, the fire commissioner position was created and adopted into the 2023 city budget last year in the fall. The position description, qualifications and defined responsibilities were adopted by the Newburgh Civil Service Commission last year as well.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Torrance Harvey expressed his concern about negative comments and narratives on social media stating the fire commissioner position was being created and approved. Despite the negative comments, Harvey continued to express his support for the fire department.
Other council members also shared comments prior to the vote.
“We [city council] get bombarded if you’re on social media, especially if you’re on Facebook. I think that you know there are, there’s the fire department out there that’s on social media as well and they’re putting out their narrative,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde. “We’re doing what’s best for the city and for our constituents.”
“What company has people that work for them that put different narratives out about their work,” said Councilman Omari Shakur. “If they have a different narrative, maybe they shouldn’t work for us.”
Councilman Anthony Grice again clarified that the city council is not involved in contract negotiations with the fire department and shared that he is in support of the position.
The adopted fire commissioner position would create a similar administrative structure that the city police department has already in place.