Finance Committee backs employment offer for new police chief
Lloyd Gauthier planning to start position May 30
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The city of Rhinelander is now one vote away from finalizing an offer of employment with a new police chief.
After meeting for about a half an hour in closed session Tuesday, the city’s Finance, Wage and Salary Committee unanimously backed an employment offer for Lloyd Gauthier to take over May 30 as police chief with an annual salary of $81,973. The agreement the committee reached with Gauthier is being forwarded for final approval by the City Council at its next meeting Monday.
“I was a city employee before, and I’m excited to be back,” Gauthier said. “I’m excited to take over the role as chief of police.”
Gauthier, who currently is a captain with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and previously worked at the Rhinelander Police Department, was appointed chief Monday by the city’s Police and Fire Commission, which that morning interviewed him and the other remaining finalist, Rhinelander police captain Ron Lueneburg, who has been the city’s acting chief the past six months since Michael Steffes resigned after more than nine years on the job to accept a position with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Gauthier was the second person appointed as police chief since Steffes resigned. Police and Fire Commission members March 16 had appointed another finalist, Dave Funkhouser, who has been the city of Kiel’s chief since 2005, but Funkhouser then decided last month against becoming Rhinelander’s police chief after not finalizing an offer of employment with the City Council.
Interim city administrator Keith Kost said the employment agreement was reached after Gauthier, who initially was offered the same annual salary of $80,018 as Funkhouser, made a couple of counteroffers.
“We had a couple of counters from Lloyd, which we didn’t have from (Funkhouser), and we were able to come to a number that was within the salary range that was posted,” said Kost, who also noted Gauthier’s benefit package will include 19 vacation days with nine holidays and three floating days off.
The police chief’s position had been posted with a tentative annual salary range from $79,000 to $85,500. The offer committee members backed for Gauthier will place him as the second-highest paid city employee with fire chief Terry Williams having the highest annual salary at $85,862.
As a sheriff’s office captain, Gauthier’s annual salary was set for this year at $78,150, though that doesn’t include any premium pay that he would be eligible for working holidays, said Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman, who also noted Gauthier is deserving of being the city’s next police chief.
Upon Gauthier leaving the sheriff’s office to become police chief, Hartman said the vacancy that would create with a captain’s position could be filled internally by the county’s Civil Service Commission conducting interviews and recommending three individuals for him to select a captain.
Gauthier said he will be speaking with Hartman to come up with a transition plan for the sheriff’s office so that he could begin as police chief on May 30.
“We’ve worked through those before, and Sheriff Hartman and the command team will work though it again,” Gauthier said.