Fire protection district’s Proposition TD endorsed by two GOP organizations

The Republican Central Committee of St. Louis County and the Concord-Lemay Township Republicans have endorsed the Mehlville Fire Protection District’s Proposition TD, or Tax Decrease, that voters will consider Tuesday, April 3.

If approved by a simple majority of voters, the Mehlville Fire Protection District’s general-fund tax-rate ceiling would be permanently reduced by 45 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which would equate to a total tax reduction of roughly $9.75 million per year.

Board Chairman Aaron Hilmer and Treasurer Bonnie Stegman voted last month to place Proposition TD on the April ballot.

“The St. Louis County GOP has made a financial commitment to the passage of Proposition Tax Decrease in the Mehlville Fire Protection District,” according to a news release issued by the organization. “Prop TD puts one of our party’s core principles of lower taxes and fiscal responsibility into action. We are committed to the funding of candidates and causes which have proven results of delivering better services and lower taxes to the community.”

The Republican Central Committee has contributed $500 to the South County Citizens for Public Reform, which supported Hilmer and Stegman in their election bids. The two were elected in April 2005 after running a reform campaign in which they pledged to eliminate fiscal waste and roll back a 33-cent tax-rate increase, Proposition S, that voters had approved in November 2004.

The Concord-Lemay Township Republicans recently voted unanimously to endorse Proposition TD, according to a news release issued by the organization.

“Since elected, Mr. Hilmer and Mrs. Stegman have increased paramedic coverage by 200 percent while upgrading equipment and infrastructure that had been neglected,” the release stated. “This April 3rd, we will have the opportunity to vote on a permanent property-tax decrease due to the extraordinary efforts of the Hilmer-Stegman team.”

Since Hilmer and Stegman took office, the Board of Directors twice has voted to voluntarily roll back the district’s tax rate.

In August 2005, the board voted 2-1 with board Secretary Dan Ottoline Sr. opposed to levy only four cents of the 33-cent Proposition S tax-rate increase. At the same time, the board reduced the alarm-fund tax levy by four cents. As a result, residents did not see an increase in the district’s tax rate.

In August, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to set the district’s fiscal 2007 tax rate at 69.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The “blended” fiscal 2007 tax rate — a combination of the district’s separate tax rates for residential, agricultural, commercial and personal property — of 69.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is 42.8 percent less than the legal maximum of $1.22 per $100 the district could levy and 18.4 percent less than the previous tax rate of 85.5 cents per $100. Mehlville’s tax rate is the lowest of any fire district in St. Louis County.

In doing research leading up to placing Proposition TD on the ballot, Hilmer discovered that voters who reside within the boundaries of the Mehlville Fire Protection District have been asked 94 times in the past 19 years to approve some sort of additional taxation.

Hilmer previously told the Call that he believes Proposition TD not only will provide voters an opportunity to permanently reduce the fire district’s tax rate by nearly $10 million annually, but also will allow them to make a statement — “a statement to other south county and surrounding governments, such as school districts, as to how limited government can and should operate and tell them they are tired of these incessant tax proposals.”