Klund to remain on April 2 ballot for MFPD Board of Directors seat

Klund terms Ryan’s lawsuit ‘frivolous’; happy with ruling

Mike Klund

Mike Klund

By Mike Anthony

A St. Louis County Circuit Court judge ruled last week that Mehlville Fire Protection District candidate Mike Klund will remain on the April 2 election ballot.

Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan filed a lawsuit Jan. 28 against Klund and the county Board of Election Commissioners that sought to have Klund removed from the ballot.

Klund, of Lemay, filed Jan. 15 to challenge Ryan, of Concord, in the April election for a seat on the MFPD Board of Directors.

Ryan, first elected in April 2007, is seeking a second six-year term on the Board of Directors.

County Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Jamison heard arguments from attorneys representing the parties during hearings Feb. 13 and Feb. 19 before issuing his ruling.

In the lawsuit, Ryan contended Klund was not qualified to be a candidate in the April election because “upon information and belief, Defendant Klund has not paid his St. Louis County personal property taxes for the year 2012, which were due on or before Dec. 31, 2012.”

Klund had owed $295.15 — $283.69 in personal property tax, $5.67 in interest and $5.79 in penalties — for 2012, according to the county Department of Revenue’s website. The $295.15 was paid Jan. 28 — the date the suit was filed — according to the website.

In his ruling, Jamison wrote, “The only issue for resolution is whether Missouri law disqualifies Defendant Michael Klund from being a candidate for the office of director of the Mehlville Fire Protection District for failing to timely pay personal property taxes. Defendant admits or acknowledges he did not pay personal property taxes at the time of the filing of his candidacy, but as of Jan. 29, 2013, his personal property taxes were paid in full.

“However, defendant contends that payment or failure to pay personal property taxes does not serve as criteria for his qualification as a candidate for director of the Mehlville Fire Protection District.”

Jamison noted that Ryan contended Klund should be disqualified as a candidate “for failing to timely pay personal property taxes” pursuant to Missouri Statute 115.342 — “tax delinquencies for public officers” — and Statutes 115.346 and 71.005 — “tax delinquencies for municipal offices.”

In his response to the suit, Klund contended Statute 115.342 “does not apply to candidates for ‘special district’ office.”

“In this instant case, Defendant Klund might appear to be in violation of §115.342 RSMo. as his St. Louis County personal property tax was paid after his Jan. 15, 2013, declaration of candidacy,” Klund’s response stated.

But Section 115.342 is in a subchapter of Chapter 115 that states, “This subchapter shall not apply to candidates for special district offices, township offices in township organization counties, or city, town and village offices,” according to Klund’s response.

In his ruling, Jamison agreed the Mehlville Fire Protection District is a “special district” under Section 115.013(26).

Therefore, Jamison wrote, Statutes 115.342, 15.346 and 71.005 “do not apply to ‘special districts.'”

“Michael Klund’s name shall remain on the April 2, 2013, election ballot as a candidate for the office of director of the Mehlville Fire Protection District,” Jamison ruled.

In his ruling, Jamison wrote, “The parties shall bear their own costs, including attorneys’ fees, associated with this litigation.”

In a statement emailed to the Call, Klund wrote: “I am happy with today’s court ruling. I will continue my fight to cut wasteful spending and protect taxpayer dollars from mismanagement. I will also work to bring financial accountability back to the fire district.

“The real loss is for the taxpayers of the Mehlville Fire District who not only had to absorb the costs of this frivolous lawsuit, but have had to endure the past six years of Ed Ryan’s wasteful spending.”

Klund was represented by attorney Rick Barry, who in the past represented members of the now-defunct Mehlville Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, or IAFF. Barry’s firm currently represents IAFF Local 2665 and the Missouri State Council of Firefighters, among other clients.

Ryan initially was represented by attorney Mathew Hoffman, who also serves as legal counsel for the fire district.

In an amended petition filed Feb. 1, Ryan also named the Mehlville Fire Protection District as a defendant. He was represented by attorney James Bax.

Ryan told the Call that 2012 was not the only year Klund did not pay his personal property taxes on time.

“… Previous years he’s failed to pay his taxes (on time). So I think that’s an item that will jump out at voters,” Ryan said.

In 2011, Klund unsuccessfully challenged Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer. Klund’s campaign literature for that race portrayed him as “a successful businessman,” Ryan said. “And so I challenge that … How are you a good businessman if you don’t pay your taxes on time?”

Since 2002, according to the county Department of Revenue’s website, Klund has paid his personal property taxes on time twice — in 2005 and 2006.

Shortly after the Call spoke with Klund on Jan. 28 about the lawsuit, the Department of Revenue’s website showed his personal property taxes for 2012 had been paid.