The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union, Local 2665 has endorsed my mayoral opponent, Nikylan Knapper. IAFF has also published a document stating that it has a mission to create a Central Metro Fire and Rescue Fire Protection District (FPD). The geographic boundaries encompass 20 municipalities and 15 municipal fire departments, covering 188,010 residents and 57.54 square miles.
Item number 5 on their action plan is to obtain buy-in from Shop Stewards and Fire Chiefs. This task is listed as DONE. This would explain why the Maplewood Professional Firefighters Association has joined in the IAFF endorsement. AN ENDORSEMENT WORKS BOTH WAYS, if someone accepts the endorsement of an outside organization, they are in return endorsing the mission or agenda of that organization.
The agenda, as published by the Municipal Fire Department Consolidation Work Group, is to establish a Fire Protection District, of which Maplewood would be 4% population-wise and less than 3% geographically, that would be governed by a total of 3 or 5 individuals elected to 6-year terms. THE CITY OF MAPLEWOOD WOULD LOSE ALL CONTROL OVER FIRE AND EMS SERVICES IN OUR CITY.
In my bi-weekly Mayor’s Zoom call with mayors of the affected communities, NOT A SINGLE MAYOR has voiced support for the establishment of a fire protection district, and I agree with them. This is another “Better Together” scenario where the details have not been worked out, but we are told being told that everything will work out for the best if we trust that it will.
The FPD is financed by INCREASED REAL ESTATE AND PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES. In talking with residents and business owners, the number one concern that I hear is how high our taxes are. Any additional tax hurts our ability to maintain affordable housing and small businesses and makes it difficult for seniors on a fixed income to remain in their homes.
Major issues are unanswered such as what happens to our new 7-million-dollar taxpayer-financed fire house? Our brand new $740,000 fire truck? Our upgraded Rescue Truck debt? The ½ cent Fire Sales Tax? The debt on the firehouse bond issue? The firefighters pension fund? I would never support an initiative like this without knowing the ramifications of its implementation, because that is the responsibility of a RESPONSIBLE AND EXPERIENCED MAYOR.
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