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Burdick steps down after temporarily filling city post - for 26 years

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Publication: The Day

Published April 24. 2013 4:00AM
Mayor says deputy police chief will take on emergency management

New London - Twenty-six years ago, the city manager asked Reid Burdick to fill in as emergency management director until someone could be named permanently to the post.

On July 1, Burdick will give up the $10,000-a-year position, which he has held since 1987, and emergency management duties will be shifted to the deputy police chief.

"I'm happy to trot off into the sunset,'' Burdick said Tuesday. "For 2½ decades, I've done the best that I can. This wasn't designed to be a career."

Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard will assume the duties of emergency management director, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said Tuesday.

"My desire since I took office was to put emergency management into the hands of a professional emergency management personnel who is a full-time, paid city employee,'' Finizio said.

Burdick, who also will give up his duties as hearing officer for disputed parking tickets, said he always believed emergency management should be a professional, paid job.

"There's a right way to do it, and there's a better way,'' Burdick said. "It really should be done in a more comprehensive manner."

The duties originally were going to be shifted to the deputy fire chief, Finizio said. But Deputy Chief Henry Kydd was appointed chief last month, and the deputy fire chief position was eliminated in the 2013-14 budget.

Reichard will work closely with Tammy Daugherty, who also is the director of the Office of Planning and Development, Finizio said.

Although Reichard lives about 40 miles from the city, Finizio said that would not be a problem because the office is more about planning for an emergency rather than directing an emergency. Finizio said that in an emergency, he is on duty along with the police chief and the fire chief.

The city spends $20,000 a year on the emergency management department, which includes Burdick and two firefighters, who each are paid $5,000 annually. Burdick said $10,000 of the department's funds come from grants. The money will be merged into the police budget, Finizio said.

He praised Burdick for his dedication to the city.

"I thanked Reid ... and I continue to thank him,'' Finizio said. "He did a good job for the city when no one else was ready to do that. We genuinely thank him for his hard work."

Burdick's last day of hearing parking ticket complaints is today.

It is a volunteer position he has held for more than 20 years, when former City Manager Richard Brown added the duties as part of emergency management.

Finizio said he will be looking for a lawyer to take over the position. "Hopefully, we will find an attorney to act pro bono,'' he said.

The magistrate, as he or she would be called, also would hear civilian police complaints that already have gone through the Police-Community Relations Committee, the mayor said.

In the old form of government, the city manager heard those complaints. Two years ago, the city changed to an elected mayor form of government.

"The system of government has changed and we want to streamline emergency management to fit the new government,'' he said.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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