A proposal to begin charging job seekers at City Hall a fee fell flat this week.
“There’s other ways we can save money,” said city Councilor Frank Nicastro, who heads the Salary Committee.
The salary panel killed the request because its members feared that imposing a fee for those seeking to take the police and fire tests – the first step toward getting a public safety position in Bristol – could potentially keep good people from coming forward.
Personnel Director Diane Ferguson said that charging about $12 an applicant would bring the city about $2,000 annually, an idea she said was spurred by Mayor Art Ward’s request that department chiefs look for ways to bring in new revenue to cover costs.
Many municipalities in the state charge fees for entry level police and fire tests, Ferguson said, including West Hartford, which imposes a $20 charge; New Britain, which asks for $35; and Waterbury, which socks residents for $75 and out-of-towners for $100.
City Councilor Mike Rimcoski suggested that if Bristol opted to begin imposing fees, it should ask for $10 from residents and $15 from those hailing from other towns. He said it would probably average out to about $12 per applicant that way.
Ferguson said there are about 100 applicants annually for firefighter jobs and usually a bit less for police positions.
Hitting them up for the expenses involved would be “a way to cover some of the costs for the testing,” Ferguson said.
City Councilor Cliff Block said that he worries that if the city begins requiring a fee, some qualified people won’t bother to apply.
“I don’t want to deter anyone,” Block said. “I’d like as many people tested as possible so we get the best and the brightest.”
Block said that the $2,000 or so the city might get from test-takers is “not going to make much of a difference in the budget.”
“Not the way you vote,” Rimcoski responded.
But Rimcoski agreed that the $2,000 the city might gain is “peanuts” in the big picture.
Nicastro said he had “mixed feelings” about the issue, but that Block had made a good argument for leaving the system the way it is.
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