PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Portsmouth taxpayers are paying $98,000 dollars for a former fire chief's payroll in his new position with the city.
Former fire chief Don Horton was named Deputy Director of Emergency Management Tuesday although he had resigned as fire chief in June, announcing he was leaving Portsmouth for Richmond.
Portsmouth councilmember Bill Moody says Horton's new job was not advertised and has been vacant for at least three years.
"It wasn't advertised," Moody said. "It was not communicated to council and I don't even think the director of human resources knew it was being filled."
Horton was given the new job by City Manager Ken Chandler. The two men worked in Richmond before coming to Portsmouth, and WAVY has learned Horton's new office will be next door to Chandler's.
In his new position, Horton will be paid an annual salary of $98,000.
"[Taxpayers] want to know what's going on," Moody said. "I think most reasonable people would say that position is not needed. That's $98,000 plus benefits and that's being wasted in a fiscally-strapped city."
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.
Horton's position was filled by Beck Barfield.
"Why didn't Chief Barfield just go back into retirement and Chief Horton assume his position as Chief?" asked Moody. "I will be asking the council through consensus to remove the $98,000 from the city manager's budget... he will pay for this through his budget. It makes us look like we don't know what we are doing. It is a reflection on council, on our city and that is not good."
WAVY.com contacted Ken Chandler and Don Horton but calls were not returned.
Moody plans to bring up this matter next Tuesday at the city council meeting.
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