Fire board examines status of chairman

Boone County Fire Protection District chairman says his benefits might disqualify him.
Thursday, March 22, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:31 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

The chairman of the Boone County Fire Protection District board of directors, John Gordon, asked the board Wednesday to look into whether his status on the board is legal.

Gordon presented the question based on a newsletter from the Missouri Association of Fire Protection Districts.

In the letter, Pat Cronan, legal counsel for the association, said a “fire district director in a first-class county is not permitted to hold any ‘lucrative office or employment under this state,’” or that no one on the board can hold a paid government position. The statute states that if retirement benefits exceed $75 per day, or $27,375 per year, the recipient is still considered to be holding lucrative state office.

Gordon said he is a former state employee and does make more than that in retirement funds, adding that Cronan’s letter is just an opinion and one with which he disagrees. Cronan could not be reached for comment.

Fire Protection District board member Shelly Dometrorch said she also doesn’t agree with Cronan’s statement.

“It is open to interpretation,” she said.

The board voted unanimously to seek opinions from its lawyer, Jeff Parshall, and the Missouri attorney general to see if Cronan’s interpretation is accurate.

Parshall could not be reached for comment.

In the newsletter, Cronan said he raised the issue because Cole County recently became a first-class county and there are former state employees serving as board members at each of the four fire districts there.

During the meeting, the board also voted unanimously to raise the pay of board members Shelly Dometrorch and David Griggs from $50 per month to $75 per month — which is Gordon’s current pay.

Gordon said he thought they deserved the raise in pay because they hold board offices; Dometrorch is the secretary and Griggs acts as the treasurer.

“It makes absolutely no difference to me,” Griggs said.

“I would most definitely agree with (Griggs) getting 25 more dollars,” Dometrorch said, citing the amount of work he’s done as board treasurer.

Gordon said he did not intend the pay increase to apply to all future board members, just those who serve as board officers.

The increase will take effect in April.

The board also voted to allow Fire Chief Steve Paulsell and business consultant Robert Scribner to do a final revision for board approval of one of two job descriptions to find a replacement for former Assistant Chief Sharon Curry.

“This position needs to be filled yesterday,” Dometrorch said.

The board considered holding a meeting as soon as Friday to approve the job description.

They also voted to adopt the secretary of state’s record retention policy to deal with the myriad documents Dometrorch said are housed at the fire district headquarters. The board is looking into copying many of the documents onto microfilm.

A work session was held before the meeting at which the fire board, Paulsell and Scribner discussed an initial draft of Scribner’s personnel policy review.

The board scrutinized the legality of things such as recruiting

procedures, internal promotions, performance management and the possible delegation of tasks such as firing personnel.

Scribner said allowing Paulsell to fire personnel would give the board the ability to act as a forum for appeals, but Gordon questioned whether such a delegation could be made under the state statutes.

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