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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mike Klund - the $93,000 IAFF Local 1889's Candidate Speaks!

After yesterday's stunning revelation of the corrupt Mehlville firefighter union Local 1889s HUGE expenditure of over $90,000 on their puppet candidate, Mike Klund, we urge you to view this video. You will discover that this greedy public-sector union is supporting a candidate with no platform, no vision and NO BRAINS! Of course, a puppet needs no brains since his strings are pulled by others. Never before in this history of South County has there been such NAKED AGGRESSION against the taxpayers exhibited by a labor union to seize control of a local government. Aaron Hilmer has spent six years being tormented with threats of murder and bodily harm, harassment of his family, destruction of his property and 25 complaints and lawsuits filed by these thuggish union jumokes formerly lead by a convicted murderer.

We as taxpayers owe Aaron Hilmer a great debt of gratitude for taking the Mehlville Fire Protection District out of the hands of the union bosses. Local 1889 is even using a quadriplegic veteran as a prop in their political campaign of lies and deceit. However, it won't work. On April 5 we will go to the polls to reelect Aaron Hilmer and dispatch IAFF Local 1889 once more to defeat. The voters should beware of this overt power grab by the militant thugs and bullies of this malignant union who are mobilizing to take back the power at the Mehlville FPD so they CAN ROB US. 


Doyel, Powers and Roland Endorsed by Militant Union

The Mehlville Teacher's union (MNEA) has endorsed three candidates for the Board of Education election being held on April 5, 2011.  Michael Doyel, Elaine Powers and John Roland have been selected by the Mehlville NEA. 

The MCTA endorses Rich Franz and Mark Stoner BECAUSE they will not be robots for the ultra-liberal Mehlville teacher's union. Rich and Mark are the ONLY candidates that did not vote for Proposition C to raise your taxes. Reformers like Franz and Stoner are needed to change the destructive union culture prevalent in today's government schools and return control to the taxpayers. As the NEA's general council stated that it's not about the "kids", its about Money & Power, NOT Education.

Hilmer's Accomplishments Merit His Re-Election to MFPD Board


March 30, 2011 - Based on his accomplishments over the past six years, Aaron Hilmer merits re-election to the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

Through his actions, Hilmer has proved himself to be one of those rare elected officials who actually keeps the promises he made before being elected. Those promises kept include rolling back the 36.5-percent tax increase from November 2004, eliminating wasteful spending and improving services.

That doesn't include the construction of three new firehouses paid for with cash and no legacy debt, construction of a fourth firehouse that also will be paid for with cash, voter approval of a 40-cent decrease in the district's tax-rate ceiling and the purchase of new fire trucks, ambulances and a rescue squad — all paid for with cash.

But accomplishing those reforms has not been easy — starting with the night Hilmer was elected in April 2005 when the rear window of his car was broken out and continuing with roughly 25 lawsuits, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints and other actions filed against the board and district by Mehlville Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and its supporters.

Though Michael Klund has attended many fire board meetings, he either is woefully uninformed or deliberately misrepresenting the facts through such claims as ambulance billing is "double taxation'' and "the reserves have been depleted in the building of these firehouses.''

Where was Klund when the fire board voted in 2002 to begin billing for ambulance service? The district bills the insurance company of a Mehlville resident who uses ambulance service and the resident does not make any co-payment.

The district also bills the insurance company of a nonresident who uses ambulance service. Because a nonresident does not pay any taxes to the district, that person also is billed a co-payment for ambulance service.

As for the fire district's reserves, the 2011 budget projects Mehlville will have an ending balance of $10,477,647 on Dec. 31 — a roughly 50-percent fund balance or enough to operate the district for six months — an amount of which any public entity would be envious.

By the way, if you receive information mailed by "Friends of the Mehlville Fire District,'' beware. We believe a more accurate name for the group, which is advocating Klund's election, would be "Friends of Mehlville Local 1889.''

In short, electing Klund would be a critical mistake and a huge step backward for the Mehlville Fire Protection District as he has articulated no clear ideas of what he would do if elected. He's only uttered complaints about what he doesn't like. Therefore, the Call urges voters to re-elect Aaron Hilmer, who has a proven record of accomplishents, in next Tuesday's election.

Firefighters Unions Give Nearly $90,000 in Support of Klund

Committees file 8-day reports.

March 30, 2011 - The International Association of Fire Fighters and its Mehlville shop have given nearly $90,000 to committees supporting Michael Klund's candidacy for the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors, according to campaign finance reports submitted this week.

Klund of Lemay significantly has outraised and outspent his opponent, board Chairman Aaron Hilmer of Oakville, heading into the Tuesday, April 5, election. He is challenging Hilmer's bid for re-election to a second, six-year term on the board.

State-required campaign finance reports were due Monday, eight days before the election, to the county Board of Election Commissioners and Missouri Ethics Commission.

Mike for Mehlville Fire, Klund's candidate committee, reported raising $26,305 and spending $14,022.76 during the reporting period of Feb. 1 through March 24. The committee said it had $12,282.24 cash on-hand.

Among the contributions to the committee during the period was $14,700 — doled out in three $4,900 installments — from the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington D.C.

Single contributions in excess of $5,000 must be reported within 48 hours of receipt.

In addition, the committee received $6,000 — two $3,000 payments — from Mehlville Firefighters Local 1889.

Also: $1,200 from the Missouri State Council of Firefighters; $500 from attorney and former MFPD board Chairman Tom O'Driscoll; $500 from the Fenton Union Fire Fighters Relief Fund and $300 from the Maryland Heights Fire Fighters Shop Fund.

The committee paid $10,387.43 to Show-Me Victories in St. Louis for literature and printing; $2,690 to Call Newspapers for advertising; $750.25 to Diablo McGee's restaurant for a fundraiser and $102.96 to Trio Graphics in Arnold for printing.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Mehlville Fire District, a campaign committee formed to support Klund, reported raising $67,100 and spending $66,583.49 during the reporting period of Feb. 22 through March 24. The committee said it had $22,961.01 cash on-hand and $22,444.50 outstanding debt.

Local 1889 was responsible for nearly all of the committee's contributions. The shop contributed $67,000 — 15 payments of $4,000 and two $3,500 installments — during the reporting period. Also, committee treasurer Mike Pollihan contributed $100.

The committee paid $39,181.96 to Pelican Printing in Florissant for printing, addressing and postage; $25,500 to political consultant Ed Rhode for phone polling, graphic design and campaign management and $1,820.28 to Trio Graphics in Arnold for yard signs.

The two committees combined have raised $93,405, of which the IAFF and Local 1889 have contributed $87,700. The committees collectively have spent $80,606.25.

Re-Elect Aaron Hilmer reported raising $10,370.38 and spending $12,733.99 during the reporting period of Feb. 19 through March 24. The committee reported having $1,625.39 on-hand and $4,029 outstanding debt.

Among the contributions to Hilmer's campaign during the reporting period: a $2,000 in-kind donation from the Committee to Elect Mike Leara; $500 from Real Estate Investment and Design; $400 from MFPD Board Secretary Ed Ryan; $300 from former Republican state Rep. Cathy Enz and $150 from the Tesson Ferry Republican Club.

The committee paid $7,961.07 to City Graphics in St. Louis for mailers; $4,029 to Call Newspapers for ads and $783.92 to Mark's Quick Printing in Olivette for signs.

Firefighters Union Donates More Than $90,000 to Defeat Mehlville Fire District Chairman

By Phil Sutin > > 314-863-2812 | Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 11:22 pm 

From Washington, D.C. to St. Louis County, the firefighters union has raised more than $90,000 to defeat Aaron Hilmer, chairman of the Mehlville Fire Protection District.
The union's money is going to Michael Klund, a small business owner from south St. Louis County who is challenging Hilmer's bid for a second six-year term in next Tuesday's election. Hilmer has raised $10,370 thus far.
Campaign finance reports filed Monday with St. Louis County and the Missouri Ethics Commission said Local 1889 of the union, which represents Mehlville firefighters, has contributed $67,000 to Friends of the Mehlville Fire District which is supporting Klund. Mike Pollihan of Lemay, the group's treasurer, donated $100 to the group.
Klund has collected $26,305, almost entirely from firefighting groups, including those in the Maryland Heights and Fenton fire districts. The International Association of Fire Fighters, based in Washington provided $14,700 in three donations in the early part of the month. The Missouri State Council of Firefighters has contributed $1,200. In addition to its donations to the Friends group, the Mehlville local gave $6,000 to Klund.
All of the fundraising and spending for Klund occurred from Feb. 1 to March 24. The group has spent $66,583 thus far, mainly for mailings. The Friends also conducted a poll.
"For the last six years, Aaron Hilmer has lead the Mehlville Fire District in the wrong direction," Ed Rhode, the spokesman and campaign manager for the Friends Group, said in a statement. "We are going to use our money to communicate directly with the voters on where Aaron Hilmer stands on the issues, " he said.
Hilmer said the amount the firefighters have raised "is no surprise. It's what they do. They want control back. It just shows how badly they want power; how effective I've been." He said, "the numbers speak for themselves."
Among donors to Hilmer in the reporting period were former State Rep. Cathy Enz, R-south St. Louis County, several individuals and the Tesson Ferry Republican Club.
Hilmer spent $12,774 thus far, all in the reporting period. Most of his spending went for a mailing.
Hilmer's six years on the board of the district that serves much of south St. Louis County have been controversial. He has changed the district's pension and disability plans to lower costs despite vehement objection by firefighters. He persuaded voters to lower the district's tax-rate ceiling.
He published last year a chart that compares the 2009 average wages and benefits for firefighter personnel with more than 15 years of service of his district and those of the Creve Coeur, Pattonville-Bridgeton Terrace and Metro West districts, angering other fire officials in the county.
R.L Praprotnik of south St. Louis County also is on the ballot for the position.
In the Monarch Fire Protection District, which serves Chesterfield and nearby areas, Rick Gans, the district's board chairman, and Steve Swyers of Wildwood have raised and spent similar amounts.
Gans has raised $20,343 and spent $11,438. Swyers collected $21,158 and spent $11,851 thus far. Gans raised $4,340 and spent $9,539 in the reporting period. All of Swyer's fundraising and spending was in that time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mike Klund's "Family Emergency" Saved Him From Facing The Voters

The voters of the Mehlville Fire Protection District were denied an opportunity to hear from the candidates for Director last night due to Mike Klund's convenient "family emergency". Frankly, we don't believe anything that emanates from the mouth of Mr. Klund, but last night was the ONLY venue which the public could question his firefighter union funded campaign of lies, half-truths and distortions. Since we could not ask questions of Mike Klund, we would like to share several issues that the public needs to be aware of concerning Mr. Klund.

1. The February 16 edition of the Call covered the candidate forum of the Tesson Ferry Republican Club where Mr. Klund stated: "I was born and raised in Mehlville and I supported Bonnie and Aaron when they ran the first time. After a couple years of seeing what was going on ... the reform, that's a simple word, but I thought it was good.". Klund also told the Mehlville Patch on March 3: "He said he originally voted for current chairman Aaron Hilmer’s reform policy because he felt there were a lot of improprieties going on—that the past board was too giving to the employees".  The truth is that Mike Klund has only voted in ONE APRIL ELECTION and that was in April of 2009 according to the St. Louis County Board of Elections. As a matter of fact, Mike Klund only voted in SIX ELECTIONS during the last 10 years! Obviously Mr. Klund is NOT TELLING YOU THE TRUTH! He NEVER voted in April 2005 for Aaron Hilmer & Bonnie Stegman.  IN FACT, HE DIDN'T VOTE AT ALL!

2. Klund's campaign mailer sent out last week states that he would: "Work for the voice of the taxpayers and not the special interests" REALLY? Klund has received at least $43,000 from the firefighter's unions who are paying the ENTIRE TAB for his campaign. If the corrupt union IAFF Local 1889 is NOT a special interest then WHO IS? We have deep concerns about a money-laundering scheme between Mehlville's Local 1889 and another firefighters union front group that will be throughly investigated after the April 5 election. In the February 16 edition of the Call, a member of the Tesson Ferry GOP asked: "….If they have or will accept campaign contributions from the firefighters' union. Klund said, "Yes, I will.'' Praprotnik said, "No, I will not.'' Hilmer said, "I don't think they'd give them to me. But if they would, I wouldn't take them.'' So much for Klund's rejection of the "special interests".

3. Klund's yard signs and is campaign mailers also state that he would "Put a stop to charging for ambulance service - that's DOUBLE TAXATION". That sounds nice, but the FACT is that ambulance fees bring in close to $2 million a year in revenue to the Mehlville FPD. An ambulance fee is NOT a tax. It is reimbursement for services. In 2002, Klund's OWN POLITICAL ALLIES instituted ambulance billing - THREE YEARS BEFORE Aaron Hilmer was elected. The current president of Local 1889, Nick Fahs (who is bankrolling Klund's campaign under the table) supported the policy that he now opposes. Since Klund's "family emergency" prohibited him from attending last night's forum we could not ask him HOW he intends to replace the $2 million a year if he ends ambulance billing. Would he RAISE TAXES, LAY OFF FIREFIGHTERS & PARAMEDICS or SELL OFF ASSETS. We don't know because Klund did not show up.

4. Klund's campaign mailer that he will "Keep the Sunset Hills fire house in Sunset Hills'. We ask HOW? The Board has already voted and broke ground on the new No. 3 Firehouse at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd. Klund's ill-informed remarks which leads voters to believe that service to the residents of Sunset Hills will be damaged by a move of ONLY 1000 feet is desperate, untruthful and just plain DUMB! Fire Chief Tim White stated in yesterday's Call: "As far as the location that's chosen, we are so fortunate to have that for the very reason that I just described. It's not going to put the citizens of Sunset Hills or citizens in the immediate area at any risk whatsoever,'' the chief said. "As a matter of fact, the distance to travel in a Code 3 from where we're going to move to the actual location would probably be roughly 10 seconds. Now keep in mind, everybody on the other side of that, it's 10 seconds quicker". 

There are MANY OTHER problems with Mr. Klund's inability to be truthful with the voters - but in reality it really doesn't matter. Aaron Hilmer has kept his promises to the people and will be reelected by a large margin. The sad fact is that once again the fine firefighters and paramedics of the Mehlville Fire Protection District have been exploited and duped by their union bosses. Union president Nick Fahs has opened up the checkbook and spent huge amounts of Local 1889 dues money on a candidate who cannot tell the truth and has no REAL issues. We ask WHY these professionals put up with a union that continues to put the union bosses' political agenda ABOVE the well-being of their members. We pray that there will be an Egypt-style uprising among the rank-and-file of Local 1889 against their failed and corrupt leaders.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fire Board Candidate Forum Canceled by Mike Klund

March 23, 2011 - Tonight's candidate forum for the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors race has been canceled.

Candidate Michael Klund told the Call he will be unable to attend due to a family emergency.

Klund is challenging incumbent Aaron Hilmer for a six-year seat in the April 5 election. A third candidate, R.L. Praprotnik, has withdrawn from the race and will support Hilmer. Praprotnik's name will remain on the ballot.

The forum was to be moderated by the League of Women Voters and co-sponsored by Call Newspapers. League policy states that the group cannot hold a candidate forum with only one candidate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reader Says She's 'Smart Enough to See' Klund's Information 'Is Wrong'

March 23, 2011 - To the editor:

I just received a flier in the mail from a candidate who is running for the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

As I read it, I was appalled that a candidate for a very important position would mislead the taxpayers.

Mr. Klund stated that he would "restore fiscal responsibility and stop raising taxes.''

Well, sir, are you aware that in 2005, Aaron Hilmer, current fire board director, lowered your tax rate from $1.22 to 67 cents? I call that fiscal responsibility that does not need to be restored.

Mr. Klund states in his flier that he will "use taxpayers' money for better equipment and personnel and eliminate waste.'' Again Mr. Klund, you must be misguided because Aaron Hilmer and the current fire board have purchased one new rescue squad and six new state-of-the-art ambulances.

They also built three new firehouses with one more on the way, all paid for with cash. This seems to me to be a wise use of the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.

Mr. Klund, you must be confused when you wrote that you "will hire professional staff.'' I consider that statement an insult to our hard-working and very professional Mehlville firefighters and paramedics. One only needs to experience a 911 call to note the professionalism of our Mehlville first responders. These fine men and women take their job and training seriously and are proud of their new firehouses with training areas attached.

Sir, you wrote that you would "put safety first.'' You must not be aware that since Aaron Hilmer was elected, he has increased paramedics on our emergency vehicles from four to 14. To me, that says safety first.

All in all, Mr. Klund, as a taxpayer in the Mehlville Fire Protection District, I am smart enough to see that your information is wrong. Honesty and integrity still count and you may want to correct your facts on your next flier.

Aaron Hilmer has restored fiscal responsibility, put safety first, hired professional first responders and will be getting my vote on April 5.

Linda Boyer


Editor's note: Linda Boyer serves as the Tesson Ferry Township Republican committeewoman.

Attorney General, Fire District Attorney Reach Agreement on Suit Over Tax Rate

Fire board chairman pleased with outcome of agreement.

March 23, 2011 - Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer last fall predicted a lawsuit filed against the district by Attorney General Chris Koster would be "resolved amicably.''

That appears to be the case as both the attorney general's office and the fire district's attorney have signed a stipulation of facts agreement that was filed Friday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Under the agreement, both sides will submit a proposed order to Associate Circuit Judge Patrick Clifford "finding that tax bills issued by Mehlville in 2009 did not exceed what would have been its properly calculated tax ceiling.''

The stipulation of facts agreement was signed by Ronald Holliger, general counsel for Koster's office, and Mathew Hoffman, legal counsel for the fire district.

"You couldn't resolve any lawsuit more amicably than this was taken care of here,'' Hilmer said, particularly praising Holliger. "He was very professional to deal with. I don't think you could ask for more from a public servant.

"Through this whole process, the attorney general's office has been very open to communicate with us. We've explained a lot of things to them. We've kind of got their point of view on some things, understanding why they brought this action. And when I saw the proposed stipulation of facts from the attorney general's office, I was just tickled to death.''

As first reported by the Call in November 2009, then-Missouri Auditor Susan Montee's office deemed the fire district's 2009 tax rate to be higher than permitted under state law and referred the issue to Koster for further action.

In mid-November 2009, MFPD officials met with representatives of Koster's office and said they were informed the attorney general had no plans to pursue any legal action against the district.

The county collector of revenue levied the tax rate approved by the fire district Board of Directors.

But in late January 2010, Montee released a report citing 12 taxing entities, including the Mehlville Fire Protection District, that levied tax rates in excess of what is permitted by law.

Montee's report stated the fire district had levied nearly $10 million more than the amount legally allowed with its tax rate. In February 2010, Koster filed the lawsuit that asked the circuit court to determine the fire district's tax rate.

At issue was the board's decision in August 2009 to set the district's tax rate at 59.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, an amount it contended was the legal maximum it could levy as a result of the passage in April 2009 of two propositions reducing Mehlville's tax-rate ceiling by 40 cents.

The 2009 tax rate was 3 cents more than the previous year's tax rate of 56.3 cents, and board members voted to roll up the tax rate to collect the same amount of revenue as the previous year under the provisions of the Hancock Amendment.

However, Montee contended that because the board voted in August 2008 to levy a tax rate less than the district's tax-rate ceiling of $1.052, Mehlville's ceiling was reduced to 56.3 cents under the provisions of Senate Bill 711. Under SB 711, a tax rate set in a nonreassessment year becomes the tax-rate ceiling in a reassessment year.

As a result, the tax-rate-ceiling reduction of 40 cents approved by voters as Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 in April 2009 set the district's tax-rate ceiling at 16.3 cents, according to Montee.

Proposition 1 asked whether the district's general-fund tax-rate ceiling should be permanently reduced by 36 cents per $100 of assessed of valuation while Proposition 2 asked whether the district's pension-fund tax-rate ceiling should be permanently reduced by 4 cents per $100.

The ballot language for both propositions included the phrase: "This proposition is based upon the 2008 assessed valuation for the district. The foregoing shall not be subject to any tax-rate-reduction rollback.''

The stipulation of facts agreement states that in attempting to calculate the fire district's proper tax rate, Montee "utilized the voluntary levy reductions'' outlined in the propositions, but disregarded the language that "would not subject the calculation to any rollback based on the 2008 assessment.''

But the agreement also notes Missouri statute 321.244 sets forth "the required form of the ballot language for increasing — or decreasing — the general levy for fire protection districts. By adding the last two sentences to the form of ballot, neither Proposition 1 nor 2 followed the ballot form set out in Section 321.244 RSMo.''

Both the attorney general's office and the fire district did agree, "Mehlville is the first political subdivision in the state of Missouri to pass legislation to reduce its tax-rate ceiling.''

"One of the things that we both agreed on (in the stipulation of facts) was that we were the first entity in the state of Missouri to ask someone to decrease our tax levy and this is just endemic of when you're trying to change the system, how it is hard when you're the forerunner. But we set up a tremendous example for anyone else to follow,'' Hilmer said. "The only thing that has changed since November of '09 in my statements — since then, the voters in the great state of Missouri have agreed with me that Susan Montee was unfit to do her job.

"That's why she lost. That's the only thing that has changed.''

Montee was defeated in her re-election bid last November by current Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich.

"I felt this was a problem that was rooted out of the auditor's office ...,'' Hilmer continued. "I think that if someone reads the entire statement of facts, they can see that we, the Mehlville Fire Protection District, and they, the attorney general's office, have agreed to disagree on some things.

"But the end product is both of us agreeing that we did not take too much money in 2009 and that was the whole crux of the case the entire time.''

The agreement also states, "If Mehlville's certified rate is calculated disregarding the ballot language as worded, the certified rate would exceed the levy rate used to calculate tax bills for 2009.''

"Well, they pretty much summed up what we've been doing for six years — taking less money than we're entitled to,'' Hilmer said. "I'm glad this episode's over. Obviously in 2010, our (tax) rates were certified. There was no question from the auditor's office. There was no question from the AG. So this was a one-year anomaly. I said that a year-and-a-half-ago and I've been vindicated on that.''

Mehlville Breaks Ground for New No. 3 Firehouse

Fire chief discusses process used to select firehouse site.

March 23, 2011 - Mehlville Fire Protection District officials broke ground Monday afternoon for the construction of a new No. 3 Firehouse at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The 8,000-square-foot firehouse will replace the existing No. 3 Firehouse at 11625 Sappington Barracks Road, about 1,000 feet to the west. The existing firehouse was built in 1957, and district officials believe it needs to be replaced.

The new firehouse will be similar in design to the district's No. 2 and No. 4 firehouses, but also will include a training tower and a walkout basement.

The No. 2 Firehouse was completed in 2009 at 5434 Telegraph Road and an open house was conducted March 12 at the recently completed No. 4 Firehouse at 13117 Tesson Ferry Road.

The Board of Directors voted 2-0 last week to award a $2,206,000 contract for the new No. 3 Firehouse to the J.E. Foster Building Co. of Green Park, the low bidder. Board Chairman Aaron Hilmer and board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman voted to approve the contract while board Secretary Ed Ryan was absent from the March 17 meeting.

Ten bids were submitted for the new firehouse that ranged from J.E. Foster's low bid of $2,206,000 to John Kalicak Construction Inc.'s high bid of $2,485,000.

District officials and representatives of Archimages, the district's architect, interviewed the two low bidders, J.E. Foster and Wright Construction Services, which submitted a bid of $2,234,000, Roy Mangan of Archimages told the board.

"... It appeared both were good contractors that would do a good project for you guys and as a result of the interviews and the information we did get from the contractors, which included past projects and references, Archimages would recommend that Mehlville Fire Protection District enter into a contract with J.E. Foster Building Co. based on the fact that they're the low bidder and qualified contractor,'' Mangan said.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously in July to spend $571,000 to purchase the 1.1-acre property at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd. from the Dominic and Margaret E. Intag Trust.

In an interview with the Call, Chief Tim White outlined the process district officials utilized in determining the location for the new firehouse, noting the starting point was: "How by moving this firehouse will it impact the people that we have pledged to protect and that we're paid to protect? So we start from there, and every decision is predicated off of that very foundation.

"First and foremost, our primary concern is to make sure that we can reach all of the residents in a timely fashion. And when I say timely fashion, we have standards that we have to meet, according to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards and of course, ISO, which is the Insurance Services Organization. When we were first looking at properties, the objective was to stay within a quarter mile of the original location without violating those standards and principles.

"So we were already boxed in within a quarter mile. It's not like you can just arbitrarily pick up and relocate that house at 270 and Gravois or arbitrarily move it down to Gravois and Sappington or move it all the way up to West Watson. You just can't do that and still be able to meet the NFPA standards that are required by our fire district,'' White continued.

"So since we had this quarter mile to meet the needs of the taxpayers without putting them at risk, we then looked at which direction to go. Knowing that that particular location is the most northern part of the district, we looked at opportunities to stay exactly where we are at. So we approached every business up and down the line, trying to get them to sell us property if they were for sale ...''

But the nearby properties either weren't large enough or the owners didn't want to sell until the district struck a deal for the site at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

"As far as the location that's chosen, we are so fortunate to have that for the very reason that I just described. It's not going to put the citizens of Sunset Hills or citizens in the immediate area at any risk whatsoever,'' the chief said. "As a matter of fact, the distance to travel in a Code 3 from where we're going to move to the actual location would probably be roughly 10 seconds. Now keep in mind, everybody on the other side of that, it's 10 seconds quicker.''

Board Chairman Aaron Hilmer told the Call he was pleased with the bids submitted for the new firehouse.

"Wow. What amazed me as someone who deals in the construction/contracting business a lot, was to see 10 bids all bunched up within 5 percent of each other — from roughly $2.2 million to $2.4 million. To me, that's tremendous how tight those all were,'' he said.

"That we were able to build this firehouse when there is so much demand for work that we have our own architect telling us that he thinks we could be saving 20 percent on this job if it was built when the economy was good. So not only is it a win-win for the fire district, it's a win for the taxpayers and it's a win for the tradesmen who are now going to be able to work on this project.''

The new firehouse, just like the previous three firehouses built by the district, is being constructed without a tax-rate increase or a bond issue, Hilmer said.

"... The first couple years Bonnie and I were in office, we had built so much money up in reserves due to the cost-cutting measures that we put in place, that we were able to spend that money now in the latter part of the last six years. I think the district would like to maintain the fund balance about where it is going forward and possibly even spend it down a little more,'' he said.

The fire district's 2011 budget projects Mehlville will have an ending balance of $10,477,647 on Dec. 31 — a roughly 50-percent fund balance or enough to operate the district for six months, Hilmer noted.

"This is the last building project that we're going to need to tackle,'' he said. "This is the fourth firehouse that has been rebuilt in the last six years. There's seven firehouses total in the district. The other three are in really good shape.

"So this will be the final major capital expenditure and we're looking forward to having it done because it's a lot of work to build these firehouses.''