Former official: Fort Valley fire chief denied chance at new job

FORT VALLEY — Former Councilman Marvin Crafter says the city erred in not giving Fire Chief Otis Daniel a chance to vie for the recently created job that eliminates his position and that of the police chief.

Daniel is retiring next week after 29 years with the city. He agreed this month to resign his position, eliminated in budget cuts. Police Chief John David Anderson, whose job also was cut, will take over both the police and fire departments as the city’s new public safety director.

“Otis and anybody else should have had a chance to apply for that position,” said Crafter, who spent nine years on Fort Valley’s City Council. Fort Valley Mayor John Stumbo said last week that the decision was made for budgetary reasons and that the council unanimously felt Anderson was better suited for the new job. Not quite, Crafter said this week. “I’ll stake my reputation on the fact that there’s nothing in Otis Daniel’s personnel file that justifies what they’re doing.”

Crafter said the decision came on a recommendation from City Administrator Martha McAfee. McAfee said Wednesday that she had no say in what the city’s finance committee decided when trying to balance the budget.

“The mayor asked me to prepare written documentation on how (having a public safety director and eliminating the chief positions) would work from a number of standpoints,” she said. “I just put together the actual written documentation. It was not my recommendation.”

Among other things, council eliminated the job of finance director Carla Yawn and froze seven other jobs in the police department for savings of about $250,000. A 2 mill tax rate increase also is being considered to help the city rebuild its reserve account.

The city’s meeting Sept. 30 will include a public hearing for anyone wishing to speak to the mayor and council about what’s been done to balance the budget for the 2011 fiscal year. After the public hearing, the council will vote on whether to approve the budget.

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.