To the Editor:
The Nov. 5 editorial “It’s a matter of trust” completely ignored the fact that the Monarch Fire Protection District Directors were overwhelmingly elected by the voters/taxpayers of the Fire District. They did not appoint themselves to this position and their mission is no different than any other elected officials, be it legislative bodies or other local boards. They seek to affordably provide quality services to the public.
I was elected to serve as a Monarch Director for more than 13 years. During my first seven years on the board, my votes consistently gave the firefighters and their union almost everything they requested, including significant increases in wages and benefits. I was their best friend and there were no conflicts. In 2005 their never-ending demands became unreasonable, and I finally said “no” for the first of many times during my final six years on the board. I made it my mission to pay greater attention to my constituents who elected me to represent them. That was the beginning of the conflicts, lawsuits and agendas that continue to this day.
No one wished for cordial relations and happy employees more than I. Unfortunately, it was made clear to me the only way to achieve this was through tax increases and ambulance billing with the union’s end goal being continued unjustified significant increases in wages and benefits. Keep in mind that then, as is the case now, the wages and benefits earned by Monarch firefighters exceeded local, state and national averages and far exceeded earnings of Chesterfield and other neighboring police officers.
Yes, the job carries risk and those who do it deserve our respect and admiration. But they were not drafted into their jobs and they are very well compensated for their work (wages exceeding $100,000 per year with many getting three months of paid time off per year for working 2-3 days per week). Don’t forget there are hundreds of men and women across Missouri who perform similar dangerous and important work as volunteers.
The sad truth is as long as taxpayers elect directors who take their responsibilities seriously, and the firefighters’ union insists on having control of the purse strings, these conflicts will not end.