Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Police chief choice wavers, takes offer


Following a breakdown in negotiations last week over his request that the Haines Borough cover $27,000 in moving expenses, police chief candidate Heath Scott contacted the borough Wednesday to re-open negotiations and struck a deal.

Scott and manager Bill Seward agreed to $15,000 in moving expenses with a commitment to serve three years, an offer Scott previously refused.

The two had agreed on a $95,000 salary, but got stuck on moving expenses during initial negotiations, which fell through June 23.

The most the borough has ever paid to a new employee for moving expenses is $10,000. But Scott, who has worked the past eight years as deputy chief of the District of Columbia Protective Services Division in Washington, D.C., said he received quotes from three moving companies and the cheapest it would cost him to move from D.C. to Haines was $27,700.

Seward made multiple attempts to strike a deal. First, he offered $15,000 with a three-year service agreement. Then, he offered $20,000 with a five-year service agreement, pending assembly approval.

“It’s under the threshold that I’m allowed to commit, but that was a big decision, so I wasn’t willing to do it without the assembly saying, ‘Yeah, we agree with you,’” Seward said.

Scott still wouldn’t accept.

Seward referred to the offer as “above and beyond I think what most folks would have done.”

“I’m not even convinced I could have sold it to the assembly,” he added. “I think (with) the $20,000, I would have taken a hit with the public’s confidence in me, but if we would have gotten a five-year commitment, it would have provided a degree of stability to the community.”

Seward said Scott makes $125,000 now and was about to get an increase to $132,000 in his current job. Scott’s wife’s career prospects were also a factor, Seward said.

On Wednesday, Seward sent out a press release stating the negotiations had reopened and Scott had accepted.

“This morning, Mr. Scott requested to reopen negotiations for the position of chief of police at my last offer of $20,000 moving assistance and five-year service commitment. I accepted his invitation to negotiate and countered with $15,000 moving assistance with a three-year service commitment. Mr. Scott accepted my offer,” Seward wrote.

Scott will start on the job Monday, July 18.

Other conditions Seward and Scott finalized this week included two salary increases of up to 3.5 percent every six months, and annually thereafter contingent on favorable evaluations.

The contract provides 25 working days of leave, professional memberships and professional development opportunities, without-cause severance pay of four months and retirement/medical benefits.

At a Personnel Committee meeting Monday, Seward proposed replacing the police chief and fire chief positions with a director of public safety to oversee both departments. One of Scott’s contract stipulations is that he assume the duties of a director of public safety if the assembly decides to make such a change.

Seward said the director of public safety position would help address a quirk in the organizational chart in which paid borough employees like the firefighter/training officer are supervised by a volunteer fire chief. “There’s a little bit of a labor issue there,” Seward said.

The committee tentatively set another meeting for July 11 to allow the Public Safety Commission time to meet and consider the idea.

Sgt. Josh Dryden has been serving as interim chief since former interim chief Robert Griffiths left the job in November. Dryden said he supports creating a director of public safety.

“I do support that idea. It’d be good to streamline all of the emergency services,” he said.


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