I’ll admit it and it should probably come as no surprise to anyone that I was disappointed in the Knoxville City Council for agreeing to pay fire chief hire Nick Bonstall $4,000 more than advertised.
That was my initial reaction. That being said, I understand why the three who voted for it (Dave Roozeboom, Tim Pitt and Carolyn Formanek) did so. I still don’t agree with it, but I can follow their reasoning.
They want a fire chief that can lead the department into Knoxville’s growth period, if it comes. I hope growth does come to Knoxville, but it hasn’t happened yet. Should the City shell out the money for the people they want to oversee the Knoxville they hope to some day have, before that Knoxville is a reality? Is it possible to achieve the Knoxville they want without having these people in place?
While I don’t discount the importance of a strong fire/rescue department, I don’t know how much impact a fire chief can have on the potential to grow Knoxville.
I’m still an advocate for Greg Higginbotham as fire chief. I know he just wants what’s best for the department, but I continue to believe that having a leader who’s already here, loves the community, etc., should be able to provide better leadership over a new guy coming in. The money is still very relevant, but to me, Greg’s lower paycheck is less of a factor than his heart and dedication.
During my conversation with Bonstall, he struck me as a very nice guy. I genuinely am eager to meet him face to face and eager to form a good working relationship with him. His resume says he is qualified and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is sincere when he says he wants to plant roots here, as well as his reasoning for asking for more money than the position was advertised for.