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Nevada City makes fire chief a full-time gig

Nevada City has its first full-time fire chief, and its public works director has additional responsibilities after action taken Wednesday night by the City Council.

The council voted 5-0 to move Sam Goodspeed from a part-time to full-time fire chief and increase his pay from $20,475 for 20 hours a week to $64,071.

Public Works Director Vern Taylor received a 10 percent pay increase, which took him from $65,987 to $72,586 a year. With the pay raise comes the additional responsibilities of overseeing the departments of Parks and Recreation, Water, Wastewater and Engineering.



City Manager Gene Albaugh said Goodspeed proposed the changes to the Fire Department after Capt. John Hotchkiss resigned in June to take a job with CalFire.

At the time, the department had three full-time and one half-time employee. Goodspeed asked that the part-time position be eliminated, one of the fire engineers be promoted to captain and the chief’s position become full-time.




“One of the advantages of this is the cost savings, and the city has a full-time chief,” Albaugh said. “This was an all-volunteer force at one time, but paid firefighters are good because they bring stability to the organization.”

According to a cost analysis prepared by the city, the department’s annual payroll will drop from $284,750 to $267,544 a year.

Goodspeed, 41, said he will be part of a three-person rotation, meaning he will regularly work 48-hour shifts at the Providence Mine Road station as well as attend meetings and oversee the department, which includes 20 volunteers.

He has been the part-time chief for five years and before that was a volunteer who worked as a lieutenant, captain and deputy fire chief.

Goodspeed said Thursday he will resign today from SPD in Nevada City, where he has worked for the past 19 years as a head clerk.

That won’t be easy, he said.

“I’m torn because I’ve put so much time in at SPD,” Goodspeed said. “They’re your family, pretty much.”

Taylor’s additional responsibilities and pay raise were proposed by Albaugh, who said this will streamline communication at City Hall.

“It’s almost impossible for me to get out in the field. You have to be available to the public,” he said, adding that Taylor already spends considerable time working with the department heads who will now report directly to him.

Taylor, who has worked for the city since 1995, was on vacation Thursday and unavailable to comment.

To contact Staff Writer Pat Butler, e-mail pbutler@theunion.com or call 477-4239.


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