PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - WAVY.com has learned a former fire chief who had resigned in July and had remained on the city's payroll now has a new position with the city.
According to City Manager Ken Chandler, Don Horton has been named the deputy director of Emergency Management for the City of Portsmouth.
"This was not a newly-created position. It was a vacant position that needed to be filled," Chandler said.
Councilman Bill Moody disagrees with Chandler and sent the following statement to city council:
"Folks, the manner in which Mr. Chandler has handled this situation is unacceptable in my view. While it's true the [City Manager] can hire his own staff, it is also true that council can cut funding for a position. Creating a new position at $98,000 salary annual salary (the amount Horton will receive as deputy director) is totally unacceptable in a city that is fiscally challenged."
Horton was paid $110,985 as fire chief, according to Chandler.
WAVY.com reported last month Horton had stayed on the city's payroll through October under the Family and Medical Leave Act. According to his resignation letter, he left the area for Richmond, but did not mention a medical reason for leave.
Moody said it is his understanding that $20,000 in payments were made to Horton from July through October 2012.
10 On Your Side tracked down Interim Fire Chief Beck Barfield, now formally named the fire chief, at a stop light Tuesday.
"I don't know anything," Barfield said when questioned about Horton's employment and status with the city. "I can't tell you anything. Yes, I am still the chief. No, [Horton] is also not the chief. I haven't been told anything. If I have some information, I will give it to you."
Barfield will be receiving an annual salary of $107,000 and will not be receiving his $77,607 pension while he is chief.
"No, he will not receive that while he is full time," Chandler said.
Councilman Stephen Heretick agrees with Moody.
"Ken Chandler has served our city well, but I have to tell you, when we have the uncertainty that we have had here, he has some explaining to do," Heretick said.
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