Members of Local 1889 not involved in Skelton lawsuit, union president says

Members of Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters are not involved in a lawsuit that seeks to remove two tax-rate-decrease propositions placed on the April 7 ballot by the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

Dennis Skelton of Concord filed the lawsuit Jan. 28 — less than a week after the three-member board — Chairman Aaron Hilmer, Treasurer Bonnie Stegman and Secretary Ed Ryan — voted unanimously Jan. 23 to place Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 on the ballot.

“… I understand that a lawsuit was filed, but we didn’t file that lawsuit,” Local 1889 President Nick Fahs told the Call. “I have got to work with Mr. Hilmer, Mrs. Stegman and Mr. Ryan… We are not going to sue this fire board.

“Come heck or high water, I am going to try to work with this Board of Directors…” he added, citing the recent settlement of the union’s pension litigation against the board.

Asked if Local 1889 was providing any funding toward the suit, Fahs said, “… My understanding is the (Missouri) State Council of Fire Fighters is going to pursue the financial aspect of it. Now they know that the only group attempting to do this right now is the Mehlville Fire District, so at the end of the day, they may come to us and we would have to go to our members about paying for it. But right now, we have no plans to pay for any of this because first and foremost, we have to build a relationship with this fire board and I want to do that.”

But union members are concerned about the propositions, especially the statewide ramifications, Fahs said.

“There are areas around the state of Missouri, maybe even some in St. Louis County, that aren’t as fortunate as we are and if they’re having a declining tax base — for whatever reason, I mean the economy is horrible — that if the (assessed) value goes down, if the tax levy is reduced, you could unintentionally cause harm later on down the road …,” he said.