Following an executive session at the end of Tuesday night's meeting, the Board of Selectmen announced that they have reached an agreement with Norwood Fire Chief Michael Howard.
The agreement places the Chief on Inactive Status pending his separation from employment with the town. The agreement will allow the town to move forward in hiring a new chief.
The Board issued a full press release on the agreement Wednesday. See the text below:
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We are announcing that the Board of Selectmen has come to an agreement with Fire Chief Michael Howard which will place him in Inactive Status pending his separation from employment with the Town of Norwood.
More importantly, the agreement allows the Board to move forward quickly to appoint a new Fire Chief. We will begin that process today.
This is what the Settlement Agreement and Release does in regard to Chief Howard:
- It places him on injured leave retroactive to April 18, 2012
- He is required to apply for accidental disability retirement no later than 14 days from now
- He will be immediately placed on “Inactive” status
- He will receive a total annual salary of $125,180 while on Inactive Status
- He will no longer perform any of the duties or have any of the powers of Chief of the Norwood Fire Department
- Should his application for Accidental Disability Retirement be denied, he will remain on injured-on-duty leave until May 17, 2014
- It protects the Town from any and all future legal action by Chief Howard
A few weeks ago Chief Howard issued a press release which impugned most of the Board of Selectmen, the General Manager, the Human Resource Director and a number of his employees at the Fire Department.
We have chosen to put it all aside so that we may concentrate on bringing on a new Fire Chief to improve the Fire Departments morale and get its budget under control, believing that the medical issues that have caused him to be out of work for the past several months played a role in his issuance of that press release.
The Board also took into consideration the interest of an individual who has put his heart and soul into serving the Town of Norwood for the past eight years, and the good things he has accomplished during this time.
We realize that the action we have taken will have significant financial implications for the Town. However, it is the Board’s opinion after much consultation and consideration that these concerns are far outweighed by the benefits to the Fire Department and the Town.
We intend to move forward quickly to work with the Finance Commission and Town Meeting to resolve any financial matters related to the agreement as quickly as possible.
The Board also entertained a discussion at their meeting Tuesday regarding the Strong Chief Statute. Several members suggested bringing an article to the Town Meeting on Nov. 15 to rescind the statute in Norwood.
If rescinded, Town Manager John Carroll would become the direct supervisor of the Norwood Fire Chief.
Deputy Chief Ronald Maggio will serve as acting chief until the town decides on further action.
Earlier this month, I.A.F.F. Local 1631 President Andrew Quinn sent an open letter to the citizens of Norwood, which can be read here.