Here's an article from Mike Anthony written almost 9 years ago describing how it USED TO BE at the Mehlville FPD. Aaron Hilmer has reversed these abuses during the last 6 years. However the firefighter's union-backed opponent wants to return the control of the district to this greedy and self-serving public-sector firefighter's union, Local 1889. We won't let that happen! Now this corrupt union (who will not open their financial records to public scrutiny) is trying to convince voters through their ridiculously inept Director candidate that ambulance billing is now "double taxation". Well, ambulance billing began in 2002 and was supported by current union president Nick Fahs and the Democrat/Union elected officials due to the massive employee pay raises ranging from 15.48 percent to 19.15 percent awarded in 1999. The union's demands almost BANKRUPTED the MFPD. Now this same union wants you to believe that ambulance billing is Aaron Hilmer's fault? Here's the REAL truth:
Fire district again seeks blank check from voters
By Mike Anthony-Call Newspapers
May 23, 2002-Mehlville Fire Protection District voters might as well sit down and write out a blank check to the district.
That’s exactly what they’re being asked to do by the district’s fiscally irresponsible Board of Directors — again.
Voters wisely rejected the board’s last request for a 25-cent tax-rate increase in April 2001. That ill-conceived proposal was hastily put together by Chief Ray Haddock in response to employees’ concerns about dwindling fund balances. The district’s fiscal crisis is a direct result of Chief Haddock’s inability to formulate a balanced budget and the board’s failure to perform its fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.
The tax-rate increase proposed last year would have generated an estimated $3.825 million annually, yet taxpayers had no idea how much would have been spent for employee salaries and benefits, for new fire apparatus or for updating firehouses.
But certain guarantees were made by Chief Haddock at the time. If voters approved the tax-rate increase, the chief pledged no additional administrators would be hired, Mehlville would continue its no-charge policy for ambulance service, the district would continue updates of its firehouses and Mehlville would continue its investment into equipment and replacement of fire apparatus and ambulances.
Now, after months of study, a district planning committee comprised of administrators and union employees unveiled a “strategic plan’’ that proposes — surprise — a 25-cent tax-rate increase be placed before voters Aug. 6. Of course, the Board of Directors — Chairman Tom O’Driscoll, Treasurer James Abkemeier Jr. and Secretary Daniel Ottoline Sr. — virtually without question agreed to the proposal that voters now will consider in August.
If approved by voters, the tax-rate increase would generate an estimated $4.3 million to $4.4 million annually — primarily the result of an increase in the district’s assessed valuation.
Though the proposed tax-rate increase would generate at least $500,000 more each year than the one proposed last year, that’s not enough money now.
So the planning committee also proposed charging for ambulance service. In fact, the Board of Directors voted last week to begin charging for ambulance service, which is expected to generate $1.12 million during the first year.
But that’s still not enough money as the planning committee also recommended seeking a future bond issue for capital improvements. So why was a 25-cent tax-rate increase enough last year, but falls way short of the district’s needs now even though the same 25 cents now will generate more than $500,000 more annually?
The difference, Deputy Chief Steve Mossotti told the Call, is that the proposal that failed last year was not one that would carry the district into the future 10 years.
He said that had last year’s proposal passed, the district probably would have needed to come back to the taxpayers about five years later. “We’re choosing to take more of a long-term look now,” said Mossotti, who recently was named the district’s media liaison.
Wait a minute. When the district sought a 25-cent tax-rate increase last year, Chief Haddock told the board in January 2001, “This amount of money should take us out eight or 10 years.’’
Furthermore, during a forum the district sponsored in February 2001 to inform residents about the need for the 25-cent tax-rate increase, Chief Haddock explained that district officials and the Board of Directors considered Mehlville’s long-range needs in deciding to place the ballot measure before voters in April 2001.
“The thing we did not want to do, we did not want to come back continually, every year, every other year, and ask for another. So we put a big picture together with equipment, updating our buildings and continuing to maintain our high quality of personnel,’’ Chief Haddock said at the Feb. 15, 2001, forum.
What’s interesting now is that district officials and board members blame the defeat of last year’s tax measure on poor voter turnout. We disagree. We said then that we believe the narrow defeat of the district’s proposed 25-cent tax-rate increase is a direct result of the fiscal irresponsibility displayed by the administration and board over the past few years.
We also said last year that we believe a proposal to charge for ambulance service can only be viewed as an effort to make the public pay for the board’s fiscal ineptitude.
Back in late 1999, some criticized us when we contended the Board of Directors had given away the store by voting to approve a three-year memorandum of understanding between the district and Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters that called for increases in base pay ranging from 15.48 percent to 19.15 percent over the life of the agreement. Unfortunately, time has proved this newspaper right as the district is truly facing a fiscal crisis and the memorandum expires at the end of this year.
We can't blame employees for their efforts to obtain as much money and benefits as they can. However, since Chief Haddock and the Board of Directors can’t properly perform their fiduciary responsibilities, we believe the time is now for district employees to offer some concessions before the district once again holds its hand out to the taxpayers.
Unless that happens, we don’t see how district taxpayers can be expected to write a blank check to a fiscally irresponsible board and administration.