South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Labor attorney hired by MFPD board to assist with possible restructuring

Separation agreement OK’d by board with ex-deputy chief.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors last week voted to hire an attorney who specializes in labor and employment issues to assist with a possible restructuring of the district.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously May 2 to hire Burton Garland Jr. of Ogletree Deakins. Ogletree Deakins is one of the country’s leading labor and employment law firms.

Chief Tim White and Mathew Hoffman, the district’s legal counsel, researched attorneys and firms that specialize in labor and employment matters and recommended hiring Garland, Hilmer said.

“… I know Tim and Matt did a little research. We’re looking at some possible restructuring to be done at the fire district and they wanted the board to hire a gentleman by the name of Burt Garland as a labor consultant at the price of $330 an hour,” he said. “I think we should do that and see what he brings back.”

Hilmer told the Call that hiring an attorney who specializes in labor and employment issues is similar to what the board did in late 2005 when it was contemplating changing the district’s employee pension plan. At that time, the board hired Thompson Coburn, a law firm with attorneys who specialized in pension matters.

“I know Tim is looking at some possible restructuring, some changes in some things in the district — nothing I really want to go in a lot of detail on right now,” he said. “But it’s something that we felt was at the stage where he wanted to bring in someone who is an expert in this field — no different than when we changed the pension plan. We had to bring in someone who was an expert in what they did and obviously that bore a lot of fruit.

“So that’s really what this is — more of an exploratory thing right now. It’s not a large commitment on the district’s part, but kind of a fact-finding mission.”

In other business May 2, the board voted unanimously in closed session to:

• Approve a separation agreement with former Deputy Chief Joe Schmidt, who had been employed by the district since 1981.

Regarding the agreement, Hilmer told the Call, “It was mutually agreed on by both parties and the terms basically as part of his separation were six months’ additional pay and benefits from the time that he resigned and a $10,000 education stipend along with any other benefits he’d accrued during his tenure at the fire district.”

• Approve the promotions of Kevin Reis and Tim Dempsey to the rank of deputy chief. Reis has been employed by the district since 1996 while Dempsey has been employed by Mehlville since 1992.

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