Despite campaign rhetoric, MFPD in good fiscal shape

\Call the Tune\ by Mike Anthony

\”Call the Tune\” by Mike Anthony

During Michael Klund’s failed campaign to unseat Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer in the April election, Klund leveled many allegations of fiscal mismanagement against Hilmer and the board.

Klund nearly won the election, solely because of the nearly $100,000 he and his supporters spent on his behalf. Of the nearly $100,000 that was spent on Klund’s campaign, Mehlville Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters contributed roughly $78,500.

A great deal of the money spent on Klund’s behalf went to mailers and advertising in which Klund took aim at the board’s “wasteful spending,” particularly citing the board’s decision to construct new firehouses on a pay-as-you-go basis by using current revenue and reserves to avoid incurring long-term debt.

In fact, Klund contended in response to a Call questionnaire that the district’s reserves had been “depleted.”

“… The reserves have been depleted in the building of these firehouses and the old ones were functioning well anyway …,” he stated.

But the reserves are not depleted, according to the district’s 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

The report states the general fund had an unreserved fund balance of roughly $15.5 million or 129 percent of general fund expenditures while the ambulance fund had an unreserved fund balance of more than $7 million or 150 percent of ambulance fund expenditures.

Voters approved the consolidation of the two funds in April.

Furthermore, Robert Offerman of Hochschild, Bloom & Co., who presented the report to the board last week, said the district is in sound financial shape and continues to increase the services it offers residents.

During his campaign, Klund also espoused the inane notion that ambulance billing, which had been approved in 2002 by a previous board, was “double taxation” and should be eliminated.

Eliminating ambulance billing, Hilmer said after the election, would have resulted in such a revenue shortfall that the board would need to ask voters to approve a tax-rate increase of roughly 10 cents.

Mehlville residents should breathe a sigh of relief that Klund was not elected to the Board of Directors.

While Klund advocated fiscal responsibility in his misleading campaign for the board, it’s now apparent that he was the candidate for fiscal irresponsibility.