The search for a new Haines police chief will start over from square one. On Thursday morning, negotiations between the new borough manager and the candidate selected for the police chief job broke down.
Borough Manager William Seward says Heath Scott is a ‘superior’ candidate for Haines’ next chief of police. But, hiring him is too expensive.
“Negotiations broke down this morning,” Seward said. “And it wasn’t over salary, it was over moving costs.”
Scott lives in Washington, D.C., where he works as a deputy police chief for a protection services agency. Seward says Scott received an estimate from a moving company of over $27,000 for the relocation.
“The bottom line is, in the borough’s current fiscal state, when we’re operating at a deficit, we just couldn’t afford to relocate Mr. Scott form his current location on the East Coast to Haines,” Seward said.
He says historically, the borough has covered up to $10,000 in moving costs. He says he offered Scott a $20,000 reimbursement if he made a five-year commitment to the job. Seward says Scott countered with a three-year commitment. Seward says the expense for that kind of time commitment wasn’t ‘in the borough’s best interest.’
“I have to be a good steward of the tax payer’s dollar.”
Seward lauded Scott’s experience and desire to come to Haines. But he says the difficulty is that Scott and his wife would be taking a pay cut. The highest range for the Haines chief salary is about $95,000.
“He’s going from a very highly paid job in Washington, D.C. His spouse has a very successful consulting business. And they would be giving that up and coming to Haines with a big reduction in income because he would be making less here.”
Scott was one of three finalists who visited Haines in May for in-person interviews with the borough manager and public safety commission. Interim Borough Manager Brad Ryan offered Scott the job and began negotiating with him about a month ago. Seward took over this week.
The borough contracted with consultant Richard Fursman in the search for both police chief and manager. Seward was one of the manager candidates Fursman interviewed and recommended to the assembly. He started the job Monday.
Seward says he spoke with Fursman, and plans to start over completely in the police chief search. Fursman will post the job this week, and leave a 30-day window to accept applications. Seward says the only additional expense to the borough will be travel costs for the next round of finalists to visit Haines.
Meanwhile, Interim Police Chief Josh Dryden has agreed to continue in that role.