Jane Kolb is challenging Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer in his bid for a third six-year term on the board.
who has a proven record of delivering on the promises he made when first seeking office 12 years ago. What Hilmer has done since 2005 — despite enormous odds — is nothing short of amazing. In fact, his accomplishments are irrefutable.
It’s no secret that for many, many years, Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters was running the Mehlville Fire Protection District into the ground at the expense of district taxpayers. That stopped when Hilmer was elected to the board with Bonnie Stegman in 2005.
During their reform campaign, Hilmer and Stegman promised:
• They would roll back a 33-cent tax-rate increase approved by voters in November 2004.
• They would immediately stop all wasteful spending.
• They would improve services.
Hilmer and Stegman not only kept those promises, but have delivered much, much more to taxpayers, including constructing four new firehouses, purchasing eight fire trucks and 11 ambulances — all without incurring any debt.
That’s on top of
, which placed a paramedic on every piece of apparatus.
Hilmer also was the architect of the historic Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 tax-rate decrease measures, which voters overwhelmingly approved in April 2009.
The two measures reduced the district’s tax-rate ceiling by a total of 40 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Ironically, Local 1889 leaders contended back in 2005 that Hilmer and Stegman could not reduce taxes and improve services. Local 1889 since has merged with Local 2665. At press time, a nonprofit corporation controlled by Mehlville Local 2665 shop leaders has contributed $38,250 to a firefighters’ union political action committee in support of Kolb.
Given Hilmer’s unmatched track record of accomplishments, we’re not sure why Kolb, whose husband is a firefighter/paramedic in the Monarch Fire Protection District, is running. The crux of her campaign is her contention that employee turnover at the fire district is excessive. Before seeking any information from the district,
Her sources: vitriolic former employees with an obvious ax to grind.
Even when shown
that over the past five years the district has lost an average of 2.02 percent of employees to other fire agencies, she refused to concede the issue.
But Kolb is right when she termed the 2-percent turnover rate “crazy small.”
Another fallacy put forth by Kolb is that as a result of the excessive employee turnover, the district wastes millions of dollars in turnover costs. Sorry, but the district simply does not have a turnover issue — therefore, her wild claim has no merit whatsoever.
Kolb’s continued insistence that Mehlville has an employee turnover problem not only flies in the face of the facts, but calls into question her ability to make data-driven decisions as an elected official.
Perhaps Kolb’s most stunning admission came during a
when she revealed that she had not talked with any current district employees.
“I have not talked to current employees about their level of happiness,” she said. “It is much easier to find ex-employees who are unhappy, so I’ve talked to them about it.”
Kolb also has questioned the transparency of the district, yet she has attended a scant two Board of Directors meetings.
In the nearly 28 years this newspaper has covered the fire district, never has Mehlville been better or more transparent.
Unlike when Hilmer first ran for the fire board, Kolb has offered zero specifics about what she would do if elected.
Hilmer not only kept the initial promises he made 12 years ago, but he has delivered more than any elected official in south county in recent memory. Without a doubt, the fire district, its employees and its residents are better off today than in 2005.
We urge voters to elect Hilmer to a third six-year term on Tuesday, April 4.