Fire chief departs with healthy bonus


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Fire Chief Riley: Making off with $80,000 in severance pay. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Fire Chief Riley: Making off with $80,000 in severance pay.
Was Fire Chief Chris Riley canned? Sure sounds like it.

After a news conference about Colorado Springs' being ranked among the most livable cities in the country, Mayor John Suthers entertained questions from the media about the sudden retirement of Riley, who came here in September 2013 amid Steve Bach's administration.

Turns out, Riley walks on Friday, his last day, with $80,000 in taxpayer money in the form of severance pay, compliments of a deal he made with the former mayor, the king of severance pay, who shelled out nearly $2 million during his four years in office getting rid of employees, some at the top. (One, Steve Cox, collected $92,648 in severance pay when he left his chief of staff/economic vitality chief job in summer 2012, only to return as chief of staff 19 months later at an annual salary of $186,945.)

Suthers said he felt it appropriate for him to honor that deal.

Also turns out, Bach made such deals with "a few" other direct reports as well.

Suthers also says Riley's departure didn't catch him unaware. Asked if he was surprised by it, he said, "Not really. No, I was not."

Asked specifically about the reason Riley is leaving, Suthers said, "I'm not going to discuss what I would consider personnel issues. The fact of the matter is he made the choice to retire."

Filling in for Riley will be deputy chief Ted Collas, a long-time firefighter here, and Suthers says he'll conduct a nationwide search for a permanent guy.

In other comments, Suthers said he removed the requirement for contractors to provide an option for a five-year warranty when bidding on city street repaving. Rather, he said the bids will include only a two-year warranty, which he said is an industry standard. Bids are due March 9.

He also said eight pot-hole crews are working the city's streets and will continue to do so through the summer as long as weather allows.


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