Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Public Safety, Taxation Cited in Dispatch Dispute

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Public Safety, Taxation Cited in Dispatch Dispute

Article excerpt

Public safety is endangered and taxpayers are being charged twice for emergency dispatching services, two spokesmen for the St. Charles County Council charged at a news conference Monday.

Council Chairman Bob Schnur, R-3rd District, and the former council chairman, Councilman Carl Bearden, R-7th District, told reporters that the Dispatch and Alarm Agency, by establishing a dispatching service separate from the county's tax-supported dispatching department, would divert tax dollars from the fire districts. Taxpayers in those districts, they said, had intended that their tax dollars would be spent to hire and train firefighters and to buy fire equipment.

After the news conference, representatives of three fire districts denounced the county's action, denied that public safety was endangered and announced that they would start a campaign to repeal the countywide 5-cent property tax that supports dispatching services. After years of wrangling, the county last week terminated its contract with the agency. County officials said it was an issue of accountability to the taxpayers. Agency personnel said the issue was that fire districts and departments and the ambulance district had the right to control dispatching services. Within 13 hours after the county assumed control, the agency had started its own dispatching service in St. Charles after signing nine fire protection districts and the city of St. Charles as its users. Meanwhile, the county began its own dispatching service in Wentzville to serve the three entities that chose not to break away from the agency - the county Ambulance District and the Cottleville and Portage des Sioux fire protection districts. Schnur described the agency's action as "extreme arrogance. . . . It is just an effort of the agency to protect its turf, protect its power and to protect its control . . . it's all for nothing except to further the self-interest and values of their board." The agency formerly was governed by a 13-member board of representatives from the ambulance district and 12 fire-service districts or departments. Schnur accused the agency of being guilty of the "unauthorized removal of taxpayer property from the county dispatch agency facility, guilty of unauthorized expenditures for the promotion of the agency . . . and now is a party to endangering public safety." Schnur said that the fire districts had agreed to pay for some of the agency's costs of providing dispatching services, "but we believe that it is very unlikely that participating districts would be able to pay what is expected of them." In that event, Schnur said, St. Charles could take on that liability "and be responsible for the shortfall." As of Friday, he said, St. Charles' city administration had taken on "an obligation of between $650,000 and $1 million" in annual expenses. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.