NORTH ADAMS -- Mayor Richard J. Alcombright believes the city will make an offer to one of the final candidates for the commissioner of public safety within the next two weeks.
In the meantime, Acting Commissioner E. John Morocco will put off his retirement for at least another month, allowing time for the next commissioner to arrive and transition into the position.
"We originally extended the search out a few weeks and ended up with 17 applications. We brought in seven of those applicants for initial interviews," the mayor said during an update to the City Council on Tuesday. "We completed the first round of interviews and will be bringing back two or three of those candidates for a final round of interviews."
Although Alcombright will make the final decision on who is hired for the position, he said he put together a team of individuals who work alongside the position to help with the interview process and advise him. The advisory team includes: Morocco; Administrative Officer Michael Canales; Councilor Lisa Blackmer, chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee; MCLA Public Safety Director Joseph Charron; North Adams Ambulance Services Manager John Meaney and Superintendent James Montepare.
Alcombright said he hopes to have the new commissioner by the last week of August or first week of September.
"Until that time, Commissioner Morocco has agreed to stay on in his acting role and we will pay him for his services out
The timing of the new commissioner's arrival and transition period falls in line with the completion of a home rule petition, approved by the state Legislature in 2010, allowing Morocco to remain in the position for two years past his 65th birthday -- the mandatory retirement age for police officers and firefighters set by the state.
The council originally petitioned the Legislature in 2010, when Morocco received notice from the state Retirement Board that the mandatory retirement age would apply to him. The Legislature granted a two-year extension to Morocco, who stepped down from the position on June 30, 2011, citing fiscal hardships in the city as his reason for leaving.
Morocco agreed to stay on in an acting role for six months while the Public Safety Committee decided if the commissioner's position was still needed.
When the committee failed to make a decision by the end of December, Morocco agreed to extend his stay another six months; ending with the fiscal year on June 30.
"He's agreed to stay on again, but we are up against a time limit," Alcombright said.
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